The Mamquam River Access Society (MRAS) began in 2008 after rebuilding the
access road to the kayak race site. It all began the year prior when John decided to fix
the road because he didn’t want his wife, Carole, portaging their 17’4″ Old Town canoe
down the washed out road. John knew it was going to be a long term plan of managing
the site but his history of building recreation infrastructure with ‘at-risk’ teens gave him
the confidence to move forward. He recognized that the Mamquam River served the
whitewater paddling community of the entire Lower Mainland region and beyond. John
asked Dave Berrisford of the Squamish Paddling Club to join as a Director and a few
other respected paddlers to help form the society.
The Squamish Community Foundation served as a fundraising charity and Canoe
Kayak BC helped us raise over $15,000.00 to carry out the project. MEC was integral to
that process and many others helped as well. Since the access upgrade, MRAS has
managed the locked gate at the head of the whitewater access road that allows drivable
access to all paddlers. Anyone willing to participate in our stewardship program and
willing to invest $50.00 gets a personal key. Others can borrow the key for free (with
refundable deposit) from Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Squamish. The land is privately
owned by Coast Aggregates Ltd (now LaFarge Canada) who has generously allowed
access through MRAS management.
Since 2008, we’ve enhanced the riverside trails and built safety railings, viewing
platforms and access points. With our sister organization, the Squamish Paddling Club,
we hosted two Mamquam River Whitewater Festivals and one Nationals Junior Slalom
In 2011, MRAS applied for and received an Olympic Legacy Grant of $25,000.00 to
build a Whitewater Clubhouse/Storage Facility at the Kayak Site but, due to insurance
challenges and changing recreational needs, has since re-directed these monies back
into downtown Squamish towards building an Ocean Kayak storage facility, run by the
Squamish Paddling Club.
In 2013, in collaboration with Skookum Power Corp. and the Ministry of Forests, MRAS
built another Kayak Put-in/take-out at 9 Mile in the Upper Mamquam Watershed,
demonstrating the importance of a recreational voice for this area. The Kayak Put-in
includes parking, signage, outhouse, trail, picnic table and access to river. A
conservative estimate on the value of this infrastructure would be $15,000.00.
In 2014, MRAS introduced the Mamquam River Campground vision to the recreation
community in Squamish and with overwhelming support, fundraised over $7000.00 to
begin the process. Environmental Testing performed by Cascade Environmental was
facilitated with General Liability Insurance purchased. A Riparian Area Assessment was
also an important document needed before we could rezone the land.
With further in-kind donations we completed the Flood Hazard Management Plan, Site
Bio-Inventory, Grey Water Infiltration Pit Feasibility Study and Fire Management Plan.
In 2015, the District of Squamish waived rezoning fees and in May, 2016 MRAS
succeeded in the final adoption of our rezoning application. Shortly thereafter, MRAS
signed a 30 year Provincial License of Occupation and became a federally registered
Charity. MRAS fundraising begins in earnest.
MRAS applied for a federal Canada 150 Infrastructure grant twice but was
unsuccessful. Thankfully, it all came together when the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation
came on-board with a $22,000 grant. At this same time, Dave McRae of Triack
Resources offered us a genuine half-price discount to clear the land. Dave was familiar
with the site and over many months, he and his excavator helped design the
John fundraised from the three run-of-river hydro producers sharing the same river to
support the vision. The District of Squamish, Anthem Properties and the Sea to Sky
Gondola all committed significant dollars as did many equipment contractors in town.
MEC, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Climb-On Equipment and the Escape Route all
supported the cause. See our Donators plaque below.
We opened the Mamquam River Campground in the summer of 2017, only to be shut
down by Vancouver Coastal Health a week later because we didn’t have outhouse
permits and had not built them to code (metal versus plastic). This fiasco forced us to
request more help from the District, which came slowly over the following 12 months.
Officially, the Mamquam River Campground opened for its first season May1st, 2018.
The vision continues.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about our interesting history!
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