Vancouver Outdoor Community Spotlight: Jay MacArthur of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC

Jay MacArthur headshot

Jay MacArthur, volunteer with the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia

If you love something, you fight to protect it. Jay MacArthur has been volunteering as an advocate for park protection and trail maintenance in BC for over 40 years as a member of the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia and several other outdoor clubs and non-profits.

Jay developed his passion for the outdoors at an early age. “I went hiking with a teacher in grade nine,” he explains. “We hiked up to the top of Hollyburn Mountain [in Cypress Provincial Park], so that was my first experience hiking. And it was a long way in those days because you had to start in the British Properties and go all the way up… I really enjoyed that. The next year I joined the Steveston Outdoor Club and we started going backpacking… And then I saw some people mountaineering or rock climbing and I thought that would be neat to do. So the next year I took a mountaineering course and I started climbing mountains. I climbed Mount Rainier  [in Washington State] when I was 17.”

As Jay spent time hiking and mountaineering, he noticed that the mountains and forests that he loved were not protected. “Especially in the 1970s when I started, there was an awful lot of logging going on and they were ruining all the forests. I got interested in wilderness.” As a student at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Varsity Outdoor Club, which introduced him to the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia (FMCBC), an umbrella organization of outdoor clubs and advocacy groups dedicated to protecting and maintaining access to British Columbia’s backcountry.

Jay MacArthur hiking in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

Jay MacArthur hiking in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

In 1979, Jay joined the FMCBC’s Recreation and Conservation Committee, and he has been involved with the organization ever since. He currently volunteers with the FMCBC as a member of the Board of Directors, sits on the Recreation and Conservation Committee, and chairs the organization’s Trails Committee. Jay also gives his time to the Alpine Club of Canada’s Vancouver section as their Director of Access and Environment.

In the first few years of Jay’s involvement with the FMCBC, he met a cabin owner on Spruce Lake, a wilderness area a few hours north of Vancouver who wanted help getting the area protected. Jay worked with other members of the FMCBC and members of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation to lobby politicians for over 20 years, culminating in the creation of Ts’ilʔos Provincial Park in 1994, and Big Creek Provincial Park in 1995, South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park in 2001.

Closer to the city, Jay helped advocate for the creation of Grouse Mountain Regional Park in North Vancouver. ” I’ve been hiking up the Grind for over 35 years,” he says. “I was complaining about the BCMC trail and that they aren’t allowing us to do any maintenance on it. Eventually, I hooked up with Richard Walton, the former mayor of North Vancouver. We convinced Metro Vancouver to create a park there. That was a local park that I felt good about getting done. Now they are fixing up the BCMC trail which is kind of nice, but it is going very slowly.”

Jay MacArthur riding the Grouse Mountain Skyride

Jay MacArthur rides the Grouse Mountain Skyride after hiking the BCMC Trail with his granddaughter

More recently, Jay has also been instrumental in lobbying for trail maintenance funding and work on the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park, trails in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, and Mount Seymour Provincial Park.

Currently, Jay’s main focus is the BC Trail Tracker. “This past year I’ve been working on a project to create a database of all the trails in BC. We call it the BC Trail Tracker,” he explains. “The idea is to get people to add trails, and once the trails are in there you can add trail maintenance reports. So if you are on a trail and you see a log blocking the trail you can add a little report. You just have to take a picture when you are out in the woods and then when you get back, just add the picture to the website and post it. It’s pretty simple.”

By logging trail maintenance issues in the database, Jay hopes to bring attention to the current funding issues facing our parks and trails, while at the same time building up a core of volunteers to help take care of the trails. “We need volunteers who are willing to fix issues because the government just doesn’t have enough people to do it,” Jay explains. “There are probably 20 or 30 times as many people outdoors using the trails [today] than in the 70s but there’s still just one person that’s supposed to look after all those recreation sites and trails for the whole Sea to Sky region.”


How to Get Involved with Hiking Trail Maintenance and Advocacy

You can report trail maintenance issues on hiking trails by using the BC Trail Tracker. If you want to help advocate for trail maintenance, access, and funding, you can join the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia or one of its member clubs.


Jay’s Vancouver Favourites

We also asked Jay to give us his recommendations for outdoor adventures around Vancouver.

Jay’s Favourite Vancouver Outdoor Destination: “I would have to say it’s Mount Hollyburn [in Cypress Provincial Park] for both hiking in the summer because it’s a place you can go and get on top of a mountain. You get a 360-degree view. and it’s a pretty easy hike for people to do. I also like it in the wintertime because quite often there is good snow up there and it’s a place to get away and just enjoy the outdoors.”

Jay’s Favourite Spot for Apres: “Well if you’re at Cypress, there is an Earls in Ambleside, which isn’t too far away. It’s got good food and isn’t too expensive. My go-to order is the Cajun chicken sandwich.”

Jay’s Outdoor Advice for Beginners: “Always tell people where you are going because if you get lost you want someone to find you.”

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