People will play. Give them a place to do it

Editorial

Wednesday, July 1 2020

Given the serious talent and enthusiasm put into the trails - and jumps - built on the crown lands near Degnen Road, it’s clear Gabriola has residents who are passionate about off-road mountain biking.

And not just in riding, but also in building.

First - it will be acknowledged that the trails, as reported by GaLTT - were built on provincial crown lands and were not necessarily approved by the provincial ministry for construciton.

Second - yes, there is some intersection of those unauthorized trails with trails used by hikers and horseback riders. So there is potential intersection of interests.

However, it is not enough to tell people - whoever they are - that they cannot build those trails for people to use.

These are some seriously well built trails and jumps. The kind which some local governments spend thousands of dollars to build - as evidenced by the Stevie Smith bike park over in Nanaimo.

Gabriola’s official mountain bike group, Gabriola Off Road Cycling Association (GORCA) says it was not them who built the trails. The Gabriola Land and Trails Trust was the group to bring the trails to the public’s attention.

While awareness is good - what would be better would be for those who built these trails to be given a location where the community both approves of it - and can support an endorse it.

We cannot limit trail construction to ‘walking trails’ on Gabriola, any more than we can expect our roadways to be free of road cyclists.

If anything, given how dangerous it is to ride a cycle on Gabriola on our roadways, we might be better to plan and execute an off-road cycling trails connection network on the island.

And....we need to have an area set aside where those, who have the time, the interest, and the enthusiasm, to build a play area for mountain bikes.

As the Regional District, and the Province, and even the Federal governments continue to look at the respective pieces of publicly-owned properties on Gabriola, this has to be one of those things we plan.

This energy will not be stopped.

Like anything, it needs to be encouraged and supported.