When the Village of Pemberton (VOP) revealed its Mountain Bike Economic Study at its May 2 meeting, Mayor Mike Richman said he wasn't exactly bowled over by any of the findings revealing that the trails in the area are a hotspot for bikers.
"It confirmed a lot of suspicions more than it surprised me. Mountain biking is obviously growing at a great rate and we're a bit of a mecca for mountain bikers," he said. "It wasn't surprising to hear the level of activity we have."
In the study, which drew data from 210 interviews conducted at three local trailheads last July and August, 77 per cent of riders were from Pemberton, while nine per cent came from outside the province. Though admittedly a small sample size of visitors, the study found same-day riders spent $100 per trip and overnight visitors spent just over $900 per trip. Those staying overnight in Pemberton for the full trip stayed for roughly a week while those spending some nights in Pemberton were there for about four. All told, visitors collectively spent $965,000 while on trips to Pemberton that included mountain biking.
"It proved the importance of mountain biking as an economic driver in the tourism market," Richman said. "It showed me the importance of mountain biking to our local community.
"It definitely brought to light the fact that we want to build the market, so to speak, and increase (Pemberton) as a destination for people to come mountain biking, but also to protect our trails and make sure that our locals have access and that our trails are not abused and overworked."
Richman also said the study will help the VOP when applying for grants for future projects.
He also saluted the volunteers and organizations that help make mountain biking in the community what it is. Richman added that the Pemberton Valley Trails Association (PVTA) receives some of its $10,000 budget each year from the VOP.
"We give them a budget every year that they request depending on what their work plan is and what they set out to accomplish. This year, for instance, there's a big focus on signage. That was something that was identified through the study, that people have a hard time navigating some of the trails because there's a lack of signage," he said.
Richman also noted that it would be prudent to see a few more blue and green trails built to help ease non-expert riders into the sport.
Peter Colapinto, co-owner of Pemberton Bike Co., said the study may have actually understated the sport's impact in the community, explaining the busiest times of year are the spring and fall.
"The numbers were a little bit low compared to what actually goes on up here, but it's a good start," he said.
As the PVTA treasurer and a Tourism Pemberton board member, Colapinto said the study would prove useful in the future.
"It'll definitely help PVTA planning future trails. There was feedback in that survey as well about what people liked and didn't like, and what they wanted to see in the future," he said. "For Tourism Pemberton, it'll help because we have a better idea of who our target markets are and where we have to work harder to attract people."
While the study will help with longer-term projects, Colapinto said completing a trail survey with the Lil'wat Nation is on the PVTA's front burner at the moment.
"We have to get that done before we can do anything else. That's our next big project, getting an integrated trail plan with the various levels of government," he said. "It might help plan our future trails expansion, but for this year at least, we're just concentrating on maintenance and hoping to get the trail plan done."
The full study is online at www.pemberton.ca/public/download/documents/40426.