Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump on the Organ Donor trail in the Hartland area of Mount Work regional park. The Capital Regional District parks committee approved new guidelines for mountain biking in CRD parks, but left room for adjustments. (Black Press Media file photo)

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump on the Organ Donor trail in the Hartland area of Mount Work regional park. The Capital Regional District parks committee approved new guidelines for mountain biking in CRD parks, but left room for adjustments. (Black Press Media file photo)

CRD parks mountain biking guidelines a hot topic in Greater Victoria

Committee approves guidelines, short-term actions, wants more scrutiny during parks planning process

The war for the woods continues to throw off sparks, with environmentalists and mountain biking proponents squaring off over new guidelines that lay the groundwork for how the sport can take place in Capital Regional District parks.

The CRD regional parks mountain biking guidelines, along with a list of short-term actions designed to move the process ahead, were approved by the CRD parks committee on Wednesday (April 28), with the proviso that they be evaluated in the context of the broader parks strategic planning process this fall.

The committee meeting opened with presentations from upwards of 30 people, ranging from members of the mountain bike community itself to environmental advocates and local residents concerned with current and future use and stewardship of protected park lands.

RELATED STORY: Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

Director Ben Isitt, whose amended motion added the layer of further evaluation of the guidelines, spoke to the contrasting and passionate viewpoints on the issue, both spoken and in dozens of emails.

“This is a (solution) that won’t satisfy everyone,” he said, noting the issue had heavy political implications. “We could try to count emails or count votes, but this is an issue where compromise is needed.”

Mountain biking proponents’ complaints about the guidelines ran the gamut. Some said they drew little advice from the mountain biking advisory committee’s detailed 72-page report, and did more to limit opportunities than provide a sustainable way forward. Others said the region has too few trails to meet current demand, and demolishing existing trails that don’t meet the CRD’s standard is an inefficient use of resources.

Rose Stanton, a Highlands councillor who lives within walking distance of Mount Work Regional Park, home to the largest developed mountain biking network in the region, said she has noticed more illegal trails being built in recent months.

“The concept of ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ seems to mean nothing to this community,” she said. “I see nothing in the plan that says having more authorized trails won’t lead to more unauthorized trails.”

RELATED STORY: CRD to consider plan for mountain biking trails at Mount Work

While Larisa Hutcheson, general manager of parks and environmental services, stated the guidelines are part of working to build a positive relationship with the mountain biking community, comments about the lack of trails in the region leading to illegal trail building in parks drew the ire of at least one director.

View Royal Mayor David Screech said he was “overwhelmed that somehow people could (use that argument to) justify unauthorized destruction in our parks.” Such attitudes put the mountain bikers’ negotiations with the CRD at a loss, he added.

Screech noted that the struggle between recreational use of CRD parks and environmental concerns has been going on for years and called the guidelines “a logical progression of something that was really dumped in staff’s lap.”

The South Island Mountain Biking Society (SIMBS) has an licence agreement with the CRD to maintain trails in the Hartland area of Mount Work Regional Park. The agreement also requires the group to include any proposed building in an annual trail plan for the CRD.

The guidelines, mountain biking advisory committee report and short-term actions list can be accessed online at bit.ly/3vHRmJZ in various appendices.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: don.descoteau@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CRDHighlandsMountain bikingSaanich

Just Posted

Some Sooke businesses don’t need to pay for this year’s business licence after district council approved a freeze on annual fees. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke forgives some business licence fees

Council’s decision affects 185 businesses

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Commonwealth Place recreation centre was shut down before 8 a.m. on Friday following a power outage. (Saanich Parks, Recreation and Community Services/Twitter)
Saanich Commonwealth Place closed due to power outage, outdoor classes still running

Indoor classes, programs at pool and weight room halted

Royal Bay Secondary School students paint the crosswalk in front of their school in support of LGBTQ and marginalized members of the community (Royal Bay Secondary School photo)
Senior student leaves mark at Royal Bay Secondary School for LGBTQ+ students

Crosswalk at Colwood school painted in support of marginalized community members

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs to get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Arts group promotes digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

Italian-Canadian prisoners at the Kananaskis prisoner of war camp in Alberta. (University of Calgary/Contributed)
Italian moved to Okanagan with hope; he ended up being sent to a WWII internment camp

Raymond Lenzi shares his grandfather’s story ahead of Canada’s planned formal apology to Italian-Canadians

Then-minister Rich Coleman, escorted by Victoria Police, makes his way to the east wing amid a protest blocking the legislature entrances before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

Responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, Coleman been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month

Most Read