Billboard by cliff irks environmentalists

July 28, 2009 at 10:49 AM

SQUAMISH, British Columbia, July 28 (UPI) -- Canadian environmentalists say they're outraged over plans to place a commercial billboard next to a British Columbia natural landmark.

The Stawamus Chief is a 2,300-foot-tall granite cliff jutting up from the Sea-to-Sky highway just outside the town of Squamish. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that the Squamish First Nation, which owns the land, is preparing to erect a huge sign next to the Chief advertising the tribe's new casino and gas station.

"It's just a shame and we're very disappointed about it," Ana Santos of the Climate Action Network told the newspaper. "It hurts more because the Chief is such an icon and a geological wonder. People come from all over the world to see the Chief, to climb the Chief, to hike on the Chief. This does nothing for us."

Tribal officials have defended the decision because they believe it will generate at least $150,000 per year for the impoverished community. Toby Baker, a director with the Squamish First Nation, told the Globe and Mail that the construction of the Sea-to-Sky highway was what really spoiled the area's natural beauty, cutting through his tribe's land.

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