Building trails now is a commitment to sustainability
Re: Legacy Trails
When I read the various letters to the editors and listen to the recent dialogue surrounding Olympic Legacies, I am concerned that the Nordic Legacy Trails may be at risk. To my understanding, VANOC does not have to build these trails to host the Olympics, but they are prepared to do so and bear the cost in order to create the legacy. Currently, the design has not yet been finalized and construction is not proceeding pending the results of an environmental assessment pertaining to grizzly habitat.
I have had the privilege of a tour of the Nordic site. Its designers did a remarkable job of minimizing its footprint, and preserving many natural features of the area. I left feeling so proud that our community will be able to boast such a wonderful legacy for ourselves, our children and our future visitors. However, the trails that have been created are suited for Olympic competition, not novice and intermediate users. Hence, the reason for building a trail system which can be used by the general public and generate revenue.
The proposed trail system has already been substantially reduced in size and its location has been changed. Is it possible, now, that it all may be lost? This should not be happening after the venues have already been constructed. It would not seem so wasteful if the project was cancelled before construction started but, to do so now will leave us with a very costly facility that can only be used by a very small percentage of Nordic skiers. The criticisms levied at the Sliding Centre will be equally applicable to a denuded Nordic Centre. Some may say that this scenario could never happen but, I highlight that we are not getting a second ice sheet, and Burnaby did not get a speed skating oval.
There is a certain reality to living in a recreation resort and to a growing population: there will be some amount of development and some amount of human interference with the environment. Thus, how we manage both realities is the key issue and I am told that both environmental and Nordic goals can be met. In recent newspapers, Mr. Long described for us logging roads, clear cuts, and other legacies of human interference already existing in the Callaghan. Mr. Long also described how the area is currently being used by numerous snowmobilers. I am also told that, once the Legacy Trails are built, there will be a prohibition on motorized vehicles in that area. If all of this information is correct, which end product works best for the environment?