Pique, Nov. 3, 2011
A Pemberton resident running to represent Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is facing questions over his alleged efforts to block access to a popular trail.
Geoff McLeod of Clover Road faced a number of questions at last week's all-candidates meeting around his alleged role in closing off a section of Pemberton's Valley Loop Trail, which runs through a neighbour's private property.
Asked at the meeting by various questioners what he would do to ensure full access to the Valley Loop, he said he's an advocate for trails, just not that one.
"People think I don't advocate for trails, it's quite the opposite," McLeod said at the meeting. "I'd like to advocate for the highways trail, the (Pemberton to Mount Currie) Friendship Trail, for one thing.
"It's the landowner's decision on what he does with his property, it's none of my property, I don't have any trails on our property."
At issue with regard to the Valley Loop Trail is a small section of trail that runs along a dike, on a private property belonging to Allan Feker, who does not live in Pemberton. Feker's property is adjacent to McLeod's.
As early as 2006, the Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) was trying to obtain an agreement with Feker to allow the trail to cross the dike.
The parties came to a Use Agreement on April 11, 2008, but Feker's lawyer later sent a letter to the PVTA stating that the Valley Loop Trail had a "very negative impact" on McLeod, and that "on this basis, Mr. Feker does not want to continue the Use Agreement."
McLeod was not available to comment on the letter, but his wife Brenda said they were concerned about people using motorized vehicles on the trail at the same time as cyclists, pedestrians and people riding horses, and that they made Feker aware of this use.
"We were sort of doing the neighbourly thing," she said. "You know how you do when you're a neighbour, you don't meddle, but you keep an eye on their property, and there were motorcycles going through from the Fraser Connector, through to the dike, and we let him know, that was the only contact we had with him."
Feker, speaking through an assistant, told Pique that he closed that section of trail through his property so that the McLeods could move their cattle to the other side for grazing.
He added that the McLeods played a "100 per cent" role in convincing him to close off that section fo trail, and he was doing it to be a responsible neighbour.
Brenda McLeod went on to stress that she and her husband are strong advocates for the Friendship Trail, a project meant to provide a safe connection between Pemberton and Mount Currie instead of forcing commuters to walk on the side of the highway.
"The Friendship Trail from Pemberton to Mount Currie is really important to my husband and I," she said. "A safe passage on the highway because so many people use the highway, that has been a focus for us and we would really like to see that happen."
Gimse focuses on boundary restructuring in Area C campaign
Geoff McLeod is running against incumbent Susie Gimse, who in her most recent term also served as a councillor with the Village of Pemberton.
Now running for Area C alone, Gimse, who is also the current board chair, feels that governance and boundaries remain a big issue that the next regional district board will have to take on.
"The board commissioned a governance and boundary review and some of the recommendations are coming forward in the next term," she said. "Some of the recommendations that we will be dealing with relate to restructuring of services. We've heard from the larger municipalities that participate in planning and solid waste management that they'd like to see their costs reduced.
"If we restructure those services, that has the potential of shifting some of the regional costs on to the electoral areas and the smaller municipalities, so that is a concern of mine."
Lincoln Ferguson of Birken is also running for Area C director. He said at last week's all-candidates meeting that he would like to see better fire service throughout the Pemberton Valley, including areas such as Owl Ridge, Ivey Lake, Birken and D'Arcy.
"It would be nice to try and get some fire service where we can get our fire insurance down," he said. "I'd like to see if we can do something about that."
Next week's Pique will feature issues pertaining to Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Area D.