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Old 10-30-2014, 10:02 PM   #1
Gord B
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MTB Cypress Update from Recreation Workshop

CONTEXT

Hi All,

The following are the key directions related to Recreation created by the ULWG from which the Recommendations will be drafted, and which formed the foundation for our discussions in the Recreation Workshop on Oct 28, 2014.

“Regulate recreational uses in the Upper Lands in a way that respects the needs of different recreational user groups, and balances recreational uses with the community’s environmental and cultural values, through the preparation with community input of a Recreation Plan.”

And,

“Identify privately-owned lands currently used or with high potential to be used for recreation, and work with landowners to address issues relating to and including potential public acquisition, formalizing access to trails, and transferal of management responsibilities.”





Here is a general recap of the Upper Land Working Group Recreation Workshop.

I struggled with this recap since I did not know how much detail to get into to keep your attention. So rather than a recap of the meeting I will share with you the areas that affect our community, my thoughts on those areas, and risks that I see moving forward. I think that this manner sets a realistic understanding for where we, and our sport, currently sit within this DWV planning process.


USER GROUPS

The Upper Lands are vast and there are many recreational user groups up there, not just hikers and bikers. DWV Parks is responsible for managing their Upper Lands in the face of all of these various groups wanting access to the Upper Lands for their recreational needs.


DWV PARKS

DWV Parks has a finite budget, and they need to allocate their budget in a manner that makes most sense to their priorities. They also have a finite bandwidth in terms of staff… so it is key to understand that these departmental constraints exist (as they do everywhere). This likely will impact how they engage in future mountain bike trails and maintenance policies (their interest in an NSMBA TAP model was clear).


PARK FUTURE PLANNING

Not only is the focus 5 years out, but 20-30 years out too… and what will DWV Parks be faced with then? A member of the public very well travelled in the mountain communities worldwide offered a point of view based on what is happening in all of Europe: the crowds will keep coming to the Upper Lands and the Upper Lands are in no way capable in their current format to handle parking and the needs of such volumes of people wanting to experience a mountain setting.


USER CONFLICT

The DWV Parks Master Plan discusses “Shared Use Trails”. I indicated that I have yet to see a hiker on the trails below the third hairpin, though I hear on occasion of hikers coming up from the first look out on the east trails. I also noted that sometimes riders carry on down Black mountain towards Caulfield to the parking lot near the highway, and often times that is where you will get the hikers/bikers mixing. I indicated I did not support shared use trails. Vince Beasse of the NSMBA gave his comments on the benefits of separating the user groups via Mountain Biking Primary, Hiking Primary ect. This will become especially important as the mountain gets busier.


BPP TRAIL POSITION

Mr. Geoff Croll, VP Development for BPP, indicated clearly the BPP stance on the future sanctioned trails: “Public Trails on Public Lands.” What does this mean? It means that when the communities are built, any trail corridors that are determined to be of value to an integrated (mountain biking) trail system will be passed to DWV and BPP will cease any responsibility for them. And who will be the Land Manager of these trail corridors? DWV Parks. So now you start to see where the future DWV Parks priorities and constraints come into play- “Land Managers are over worked and stressed out”: that is a tag line on an IMBA graphic online and we need to realize this. This photo is up on the Facebook group page.


BPP CONCERN TO TRAIL EXPECTATIONS

In essence the remark was just because a trail exists does not mean it will be “automatically grandfathered” into a trail corridor in the planning and development process. We need to, as a community, accept this.

Ultimately, when I look at the process before the DWV Planners, and the BPP developers… they will make a community THAT WORKS FOR DWV. They will respect and plan for the need of recreation within the communities but that does not guarantee all of the current trails are “safe and included”. They are not.

Reading between the lines of BPP comment on this topic and it was clear to me it was a response to the MTB Cypress “Comment for Consideration”. BPP’s politely stated concern to MTB Cypress is acknowledged.

The MTB Cypress Comment for Consideration for us as a community should not be interpreted as a call out to build trails to save trails- not at all. The MTB Cypress document submitted to the ULWG discussed the OAT’s (Original Advanced Trails). Clearly, new trails do not qualify as Original. And we may not be able to save all OAT’s because…

Who gets to decide what trails are considered? Not us but DWV Planning and DWV Parks, and that will be in the context of any Area Development Plan (ADP) coming from BPP… and how that ADP allows for Trail Corridors.

We rely on BPP and DWV to provide us the future trails! If you know of anyone digging, please ask them not to. (insert beating dead horse here). We need to act as community and stand up together. Please.


PUBLIC TRAILS ON PUBLIC LANDS AND LIABILITY

My personal view is that mountain biking liability discussion within the ULWG is outside their Terms of Reference. I will respond to this point in my Follow Up Letter to the ULWG next week giving them my thoughts on the Workshop session.

Nonetheless there is one particularly vocal ULWG member that has a very strong, almost alarmist view on Liability. I explained how the whole IMBA insurance policy worked for sanctioned trails and how the DWV could then become a co-signer onto the Policy once the trails are sanctioned.

This ULWG member was interested in any statistics of injury associated on the mountain. Alan B indicated that injury rates were 100%- every mountain biker gets hurt as some point. My response then… to take an equally alarmist “counter position” was: if you do not want injury or liability, close the mountain.(Clearly any conversation seeking meaningful discussion based on opposing extreme edge condition positions is hardly productive!)

Later, when speaking privately with the ULWG member I asked if there was anything more I could offer. The response back from the ULWG member was not only are they concerned about the Liability, but what happens to the rider after if they break their neck and are in a wheel chair?

It seems to me that using the concern of worst case potential injury outcomes to determine level of permitted recreation is a slippery slope to stand on at this juncture without full information / understanding of Insurance and a DWV Policy document from Parks on trails! This (the ULWG) is the wrong forum, at the wrong time with, quite frankly, the wrong people IMHO for the specificity of this discussion.


TRAIL REVIEW / TRAIL MASTER PLAN / RECREATION PLAN

The DWV Parks Master Plan, p. 17 indicate that a “Trail Review” will be undertaken. I have confirmed with the DWV Parks Manager at the meeting that this is to be started later this year/early next year. I have no visibility as to what this Trail Review entails, but suggested that perhaps DWV Parks reach out towards us and the Trail Builders to also participate, assuming DWV Parks desires our input. I framed it in this way: it is important to understand how a Trail Builder “sees a zone” and how they can visualize the trail through the zone. It would be an opportunity missed not to have a rider and a builder give input into the Trail Review. When I know more about this Trail Review I will pass it along.

So this is also why there should be no building on trails, if we desire to have access to them in the future, we need to be part of the process and be partners in the outcomes sought. I need your help getting this message out to all that you know are builders. Please. Our first opportunity I hope will be participating in the Trail Review- but that is up to DWV Parks.

I have been under the impression that the Trail Master Plan would be starting up in 2015, but this is now pushed back to 2016 as a result of the desire to have the Trail Review noted above provide some input and context to the Trail Master Plan work.

The very start of the post noted a potential need for a Recreation Plan, and this could then lead into a Recommendation from the ULWG to Council saying such… and this would likely lead to another Working Group… insert sigh here… and more time… I think Alan B and I are on the same page in that a Trail Master Plan is more of a priority, and any future possible Recreation Plan can reference a Trail Master Plan. I will make this point in my follow up to the ULWG.


CANARY IN THE COALMINE?

Mr. Geoff Croll, VP Development BPP, noted some facts that I found alarming insofar as the general environment within which all of this “stuff” is occurring:

#1) The bottom part of Sexboy was transferred from BPP to DWV since a “development site” (the current Rodgers Creek development site) could not have an unauthorized trail(s) permitted within its boundaries, as I understand it.

This trail license was NEVER ratified by DWV. Hmmmmmm.

#2) The Trans Canada Trail was similarly passed to DWV from BPP (where required) in a trail license concept… and it too was NEVER ratified by DWV. Currently the actual Trans Canada Trail license has expired and is up for renewal, or something like that… (!) Hmmmmmmm.

What does the mean for us? It is very discouraging to hear this… it seems, for whatever unknown reason(s), DWV has dropped the ball on these trail licenses, and as a result, BPP is not at all interested in undertaking a similar model for any of the mountain biking trails on their land. This is why their position is “Public Trails on Public Lands.” They do not want the hassle of dealing with DWV with respect to trails now it seems. Responding to a direct question from a ULWG member on if BPP would consider trail licensing in the future and the answer was short and direct: “No, it has not worked in the past.” So, as indicated above in BPP TRAIL POSITION, all trails eventually, given this foreshadowing, will be managed by DWV.

Could this be a canary in the coal mine for the departmental constraints noted above? How does this play out with us, if DWV and BPP cannot even sort out the Trans Canada Trail?



CLOSING COMMENTS

I am somewhat concerned for what I witnessed and learned in the Workshop, especially the Trans Canada Trail situation.

At this point, I will continue to go to the meetings as I am able, and let you know what is up. However, for the next 5-6 months there is not much more I/we can do.

Maybe DWV Parks will want to utilize our sport specific viewpoints on the Trail Review. If I hear from them I will let you know.

I will send in a Follow Up letter to the ULWG with my concerns, and then… after that it is wait and see how it all shakes out.
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Last edited by Gord B; 10-31-2014 at 06:52 AM.
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