The south slopes of Grouse Mountain, including the areas surrounding the Grouse Grind, Baden Powell and BCMC trails will soon be officially designated as a regional park.
Metro Vancouver announced the change on Wednesday. It takes effect on May 1.
For 85 years, the 75-hectare area has been owned by the Greater Vancouver Water District, an arm of Metro Vancouver, but not the division responsible for parks.
“Our water services staff have been managing the Grind very capably over the last few years but it’s not their core business. It is our core business to manage recreational activity so we’re very pleased to be trusted to take it over. We’re looking forward to the challenge,” said Frieda Schade, division manager of parks and planning. “We’ll be putting up a kiosk, having some maps. It will look more park-like with a park entrance sign – just like any other regional park.”
The Grind will stay a seasonal trail, park patrollers will remain on the trail and Metro will still pay for the upkeep and upgrades. Beyond that, Metro is planning public consultations to collect ideas for what to do with the other trails on the land, including possible upgrades.
“If this is what’s decided the people want and we want and we’re willing to fund it, it gives us an opportunity to fix up that trail or other trails in the area. On the other hand, we might close some trials that are of lesser significance,” she said. “There will be people who do don’t want any trails fixed up and they like things the way they are. But, anyway, we want to get out there and hear what people have to say and we put together our plans accordingly.”
Grouse Mountain Resorts Ltd., which is in the process of selling its operations and selling its operations and 485 hectares of property, will remain the leaseholder for the parking lots, ski resort and gondolas, and revenues collected from parking and the Skyride down will still go to Grouse.
“That’s a little bit different than most regional parks, and that’s not something we can do anything about,” Schade said. “With any new operators or owners, we look forward to establishing a working relation.”
Local blogger and parks advocate Steve Jones said the change will probably be a good move for park users.
Jones said he’d like to see a review of the issue of public parking and the flow of funds.
“Metro Vancouver now has a park without really any good way for people to access it,” he said. “Unless they’re taking transit, which is a good option for sure, but I think there may be some reasonable questions there. Are we just maintaining a trail for the resort?
Jones said he’d also like to see Metro consider allowing experienced backcountry users onto the trails during off-hours or in the winter, rather than shutting them out entirely.