Many Coalmontians will be happy to know that as a result of continued dialogue with Vermilion Trails Society as well as various BC motorsports clubs and related organizations, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has responded with a revised strategic plan.
Gary Townsend, Assistant Deputy Minister, from the Integrated Resource Division has sent out a letter to explain how the department is now looking at the situation. Bill Allinott, President of the Vermillion Trails Society, received the following:
As a partner in the management and development of BC’s rail trails, I am writing to inform you of a revised strategic approach to rail trail management by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Perhaps the statement can be best summed up with the recognition of the fact that the past approach has not been realistic.
The ministry sees the need to adopt a more realistic approach to rail trails management, one that represents the geographic and demographic variability across the landscape and supports the multiple interests of the communities that the trails pass through. Available funding needs to be prioritized to specific trail segments using a risk management strategy based on community support, use levels, type of use, and tourism potential.
There is recognition of the importance of non-motorized use and consideration of how everyone may be able to work together.
In many communities along the trails, non-motorized use provides residents and visitors with exceptional, high quality recreational opportunities. Centered around developed areas where use is highest, non-motorized designations protect public safety, ensure an enjoyable recreation experience, and minimize conflicts. Non-motorized trails also offer a great opportunity for the development of destination tourism.
However, it is clear that there is a commitment to support motorized use where it is appropriate. The government also recognizes that off road vehicles need to have ways to connect between Greenway segments across the province.
In the more rural and wilderness portions of the trails, non-motorized designations are impractical to implement and not always supported by local residents. Due to higher ORV use in these areas, trail surface conditions tend to deteriorate and cycling use is lower. Managing these types of areas for non-motorized use does not justify the exceptional costs required to maintain high quality tread surfaces.
In short, the government now supports the idea of the Trans Canada Trail being
multi use in places like ours. For those to whom this is most important, this is quite a win. And a hard earned one
This long term goal has been achieved as a result of the efforts of many people. Thanks go to the directors and members of the Vermilion Trails Society, as well as the Province, Regional District, ATV/BC, and the individual communities. As Bill Allinott points out:
This could not have been done by any one person or organization.