Decision making in the debate over whether motorized vehicles should be allowed on Mount Gardner will ramp up next month.
The municipality (BIM) has been in discussions with the Ministry of Forests – who will make a final ruling on the matter since the areas in question are Crown lands – and department representatives are set to visit Bowen and tour Mount Gardner in June.
The matter has now drawn out for years without a clear answer. In April 2020 council passed a resolution asking for a ban of motorized vehicles on Mount Gardner, following public pushback against a proposed motorized vehicle trail on the north side of the mountain.
But last year a decision by Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC, part of Ministry of Forests) only complicated the matter. It stated Mount Gardner’s summit would be off limit to motor vehicles, but didn’t clarify what their use should be (if any) on the rest of the mountain.
Council restated their opposition to any use of the vehicles in November last year, and the final call is now back in provincial hands.
The current consultation process with the ministry involves virtual and face-to-face meetings with the three primarily-involved groups in the debate – Bowen Island Trail Society (BITS), Bowen Trail Riders Association (BTRA) and the Bowen Island Horse Owners and Riders Association (BIHORA).
The Bowen Island Rotary and Bowen Island Conservancy will also be consulted, along with representatives from Islands Trust and Squamish Nation.
Following talks with stakeholders and inspection of the affected areas, RSTBC will likely return with their recommendations by fall, says BIM chief administrative officer Liam Edwards.
This would pave the way for a definitive answer on a motorized Mount Gardner by the end of the year.