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West side trail closures 'temporary'



WORCA partners with land developers to keep trails open

When it was founded in 1990, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association’s main goal was keeping trails open to the growing mountain bike community. The province was planning to close the dirt trail to Cheakamus Lake to mountain bikers, but changed its mind after WORCA showed them that there was strong local support for keeping the trail open.

Since then WORCA’s focus has expanded from basic trail advocacy to include trail maintenance, youth development, recreational racing, and event sponsorship.

Now, with real estate developments impacting on some of Whistler’s more prominent mountain bike trails, WORCA is working with land developers and the municipality to keep the trail system as intact as possible.

There are currently trail closure signs on Danimal, Beaver Pass and 99er to allow the construction of a new road through the privately owned area historically known as the B.C. Rail Lands. The lands are comprised of about 207 hectares (511 acres) on the west side of Alta Lake.

A subdivision with at least 29 estate homes and a park around Beaver Lake will follow over the next few years, resulting in the permanent closure of some sections of these trails.

Rather than abandoning the trails, however, WORCA has been working with the land owners and a local trail builder to re-route the trails to keep them as intact as possible.

"We were looking at the development of the B.C. Rail Lands as a potentially big issue for us, but it’s really not that bad," says Tony Horn, WORCA director of trails. "In this case, the developers have been more than accommodating to WORCA, and were more than willing to put their time and money towards a solution.

"WORCA knows there’s going to be development within Whistler, and that trail issues are going to pop up as a result, but I’m sure we can find compromises and solutions that work for everybody in a lot of these cases. We’re lucky to live in a town where the municipality and the people are so pro biking."

Duane Jackson and Bill Kunzweiler, the owners and developers of the land, are working with WORCA and the municipality to identify possible alternatives for each of the three trails.

"Basically, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to maintain the trails that can be maintained, realign the trails that need to be moved, and get (the municipality and WORCA’s) input throughout the process," says Carson Hamm, an engineer and planner with Jackson and Kunzweiler.

"We all have a vested interest in the trails, as part of the community – everyone associated with this project is a member of the community and uses the trails," Hamm continues. "Part of it has to do with being a good neighbour, and part of it is that the residents of the new development are going to want access to the trails. Closing them to the public forever is not what’s best for anyone."