This could be the end of the trail for motor vehicles on Mt. Gardner.
Bowen Island Municipality is appealing to the province to ban motorized use on Mt. Gardner. Council voted to prepare a submission to Recreation, Sites and Trails BC requesting the prohibition at its regular council meeting April 27.
Tom Blackbird, district recreation officer for Recreation, Sites and Trails BC had told council in a presentation earlier in the evening that as a statutory decision maker over the section of Crown Land, to consider such a move he’d be looking for a written submission with an outline of the issue and rationale.
To come to a decision Blackbird would look at all the information he’s got and maybe do some fact-finding, he said.
Municipalities are given more weight in these decisions than other organizations due to their vested interests, Blackbird said.
Council’s request comes after Bowen Trail Riders’ Association’s proposal for a two-track motorized trail up Mt. Gardner trail roused a public debate last fall. Blackbird said in January that that project wouldn’t be proceeding for now due to the public outcry.
Several members of the public, including representatives from the Bowen Island Conservancy and the Bowen Island Nature club voiced their opposition to motorized use of the Mt. Gardner trails in the public comments section of Monday’s meeting, also noting a need for public consultation when it comes to substantive changes to the land usage.
Blackbird said that public consultation is part of the mandate of the Bowen Trails Coalition, which holds a partnership with the province to maintain the trails of the Mt. Gardner Crown lands. BTRA is a member of the coalition along with the Bowen Island Trail Society and Bowen Island Horse Owners and Riders Association. The coalition is up for renewal and Blackbird raised the idea of adding more parties to the partnership. “If that’s where we want to have an open forum, we want to have the ability to share ideas and raise, you know, whether people are supportive or not supportive of it,” said Blackbird.
Blackbird told council that the only motorized trail on the Province’s books right now on Mt. Garner is Easy Street. He noted that Easy Street was constructed before the partnership agreement with the Trails Coalition and was authorized (after the trail was constructed) under section 57 of the Forest Range Practices Act so as to allow the trail to be brought up to a higher standard.
Blackbird noted that there are liability concerns when it comes to trail standards.