The proposed Barbour Rock biking and hiking trail network is currently under the formal referral process of the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNROs) but that isnt stopping discussion amongst the public of the future for the area.
The trail proposal was jointly put forward by the Columbia Valley Cycling Society and Greenways Trail Alliance as a multi-purpose non-motorized trail for bikers, hikers and runners that will feature three loops of varying degrees of difficulty.
A letter to the editor was published in the Pioneer on October 7th from Lawrie Mack, detailing his hope as a resident of the Toby Benches that the government and the Columbia Valley Cycling Society keep Barbour Rock wild. This was followed by a letter from Norman Hendricks, a member of the Toby Benches Society, supporting Ms. Mack in opposition of the proposed multi-use trail network.
Thirty to 40 kilometers of new trails cut zig zag throughout this area will result in total wildlife disruption, especially on the migration route from Jumbo, Toby, Delphoie and more valleys to the intermediate range here and onto the wetlands for the winter, Mr. Hendricks wrote.
Not all of the public has been in opposition of the new proposed trails system though. Adrian Bergles, former president of the Columbia Valley Cycling Society, penned a letter to the editor in the Pioneer on November 11th highlighting the importance of adding trail networks to the economy throughout the Columbia Valley.
Cycling society director of trail development Dave Lammerse said that they have also received as many as 200 signatures in support of the trail network.
One of the disputes that Mr. Hendricks had with the process for the trail development and the Cycling Society was that they had already laid a section of the trail prior to government approval, which he said is against the Forest and Range Practices Act.
To this, Mr. Lammerse said that the Cycling Society simply did the GPS tracking of the proposed trail to be included in the plan.
What it means is that weve gone out with a GPS after looking at the terrain and giving a rough idea of where we would like to see a trail go, he said noting that no one is currently building the trail at Barbour Rock. The track is the general idea of where we would like to see the trail go.
Mr. Lammerse continued saying that even the current projected route of the trail is subject to change based on the referral process before the government and construction limitations in the future.
The plan itself is very malleable. Nothing is written in stone by any means because the people that are making the decision are actually the government.
One of the other issues that Mr. Hendricks brought forward was the possibility of holding an open house so that various groups including First Nations, the Toby Benches Society and residents along the proposed trail would have a space where their voices could be heard.
If you have an open house its out where everyone can hear your views, he said. An open house people will go to. When weve had open houses for the official community plan, a lot more people showed up.
Mr. Lammerse said that the Cycling Society is meeting with the RDEKs planning committee to present the trail network proposal to them and receive feedback and fully intends on holding a public open house in the future so that members of the public can express their opinion, both positive and negative, in the future.
He said that the society has not yet determined a date for a public open house.