Sunshine Coast Trail builders question plan process

Regional district paths initiative remains in draft stage

Powell River Regional District’s board has received its plan for managing the region’s trail networks, but few details have been provided on how it will proceed with the document, despite questions from concerned trail builders.

Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (PRPAWS) president Eagle Walz appeared before the board at its meeting on December 21 to clear up some information regarding his organization’s committee of the whole presentation on December 15.

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Walz told the board it was incorrect that the trail-building group wishes to have the 180-kilometre-long Sunshine Coast Trail designated single-use.

“What we are asking for is a single-use designation on the single-track parts of the Sunshine Coast Trail that we have built,” said Walz.

The trail builders acknowledge that sections of the trail run along old resource roads, over bridges, on public roads and streets, and through trails in city and provincial parks; parts historically used by hikers, cyclists and other motorized recreation users, said Walz.

PRPAWS built and marketed sections of the trail, which brings thousands of visitors to the region and has been recognized as one of the world’s top 50 hikes, he added.

“We need a single-use hiking trail to continue to attract the thousands of visitors who come each year,” said Walz. “Walking along and continually looking over your shoulder for wheels bearing down on you destroys the experience of being in the wild.”

The regional trails plan is a document that catalogs trails in the area and gives suggestions on how the trails can be managed. Now that it has been received by the regional district, the board will decide on whether to accept it at a future meeting.

Walz asked how the plan can be amended and inquired about the process to establish the trail-users advisory comittee, whether it will include members of the public and how committee members will be selected.

Board chair and Electoral Area A director Patrick Brabazon told Walz he would not speculate on what, if anything, would happen with the draft plan.

Later in the meeting during question period, Brabazon was again pressed for details on the next steps.

“Everyone is going to have to wait impatiently,” said Brabazon. “We’ve waited a long time for a trails plan, this is no time to say we’re going to do X, Y and Z.”

Reluctant to discuss specifics, Brabazon did say that because parts of the plan require funding and the regional district is in its budgeting consideration phase, he is planning on putting together a proposal for a January committee of the whole meeting.

Brabazon added that he would prefer that “some rational, cool thinking” happens before any decisions are made about going forward.

Brabazon said he expects members of the public who have concerns about the draft plan will have an opportunity to raise them before a committee sometime in the new year.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak

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