The “skinny” structure of an unsanctioned trail named Catapult that is now gone from Mount Work as it was decommissioned this week by a CRD parks crew. (Erik Beiderwieden Photo)

The “skinny” structure of an unsanctioned trail named Catapult that is now gone from Mount Work as it was decommissioned this week by a CRD parks crew. (Erik Beiderwieden Photo)

Cyclists ‘frustrated’ after CRD removes Mount Work bike trails

Advocates push for new trails at Mount Work

A pair of unsanctioned mountain biking trails at the popular Mount Work Park mountain bike park, next to the Hartland dump, were dismantled by the Capital Regional District last week and it’s part of an underlying conversation starting to heat up across the region.

It comes at a time when there’s been a surge in mountain biking popularity in southern B.C., with Whistler, Squamish, Cumberland and Duncan all benefiting as places to visit. It also comes at a time when the CRD board has voted to create a more rigorous mountain biking policy for the region while the South Island Mountain Bike Society has openly requested the CRD create a Mount Work management plan.

The two entities, CRD Regional Parks and SIMBS have worked together for two decades on authorized trail building activity within the designated mountain biking area in Mount Work Regional Park.

In an open letter asking the CRD to create a Mount Work management plan, SIMBS noted that the boundaries that limit the bike trail system within Mount Work Park have not been expanded since 1999.

It’s a pair of policies that could lead to more trails. However, there is frustration among regular users of the park that even with a new policy, the trails could take years.

READ ALSO: Bike park in honour of Jordie Lunn coming to Langford

Erik Beiderwieden is an avid mountain biker and Mount Work visitor and had ridden the two trails that were removed last week, Catapult and Rampart. They have names despite being unsanctioned as they became popular, he said.

“My experience is that rogue trail building is a symptom of greater numbers and a lack of development,” Beiderwieden said. “If it’s going to take [up to] five years to put together a report without any action, they will be that much more behind.”

Beiderwieden also noted that while the CRD recognized the need to build a second parking lot for mountain biking (both are currently full even on weekday mornings) but the area hasn’t increased its number of trails, at least legally.

Last year, 39,000 bikes went through the starting gate from the Hartland entrance to the Mount Work park and it’s noticeably busier this spring, said Alon Soraya, the vice president of SIMBS. That doesn’t include the lineup of cars parked along the Willis Point Road accesses where somewhere between five and 15 per cent more cyclists enter without passing the start counter.

The Mount Work site has what some say are Greater Victoria’s best mountain biking trails and was born in the early 1990s from volunteer builders. Eventually, more routes popped up and the Capital Regional District, who manages the park, decommissioned some while sanctioning others. Harbourview is now open on the West Shore but has its own limitations, part of why Sooke Mayor Maja Tait pushed for the regional mountain biking policy in October 2019 (which the CRD board passed).

And while unsanctioned trails have been an issue the CRD and SIMBS have worked together to limit since the start, they seemed to have increased in the last few years. For the last two summers, Soraya said, the CRD has been posting notices on unsanctioned trails – those built without consent from SIMBS or the CRD.

“We don’t condone unsanctioned trail building,” Soraya said. “We know mountain bikers are frustrated.”

Realistically, there can’t be newly sanctioned trails at Mount Work until the boundary is expanded, he added. (The two unsanctioned trails removed the week of May 6 threaded in and out of the boundary, SIMBS said.)

“People are frustrated, they say we’re not building trails quickly enough, and they take matters into their own hands,” Soraya said. “We need people to buy in the process, and be involved, and speak up through the right channels.

“We’re trying to balance that as a society, we don’t want to be policing, we are not out there enforcing bylaws, but we have to have these discussions and be accountable to these frustrations.”

Soraya noted SIMBS is also looking to be more transparent as they’ve heard cyclists are not aware what projects they’ve been taking on.

READ MORE: At work on the trail, monthly work parties on Mount Work mountain bike park

The most recent upgrades to the park are the technical training area for new mountain bikers which the CRD built four years ago (and which the CRD maintains) and the new parking lot. SIMBS also re-routed and rebuilt a south ridge trail to get it out of a creek bed.

Last week, CRD Parks sent a letter to SIMBS declaring the abuse of unauthorized trails, signed by Tracey Moss, manager, visitor services and community engagement.

“CRD has been inventorying the unauthorized trail systems at Mount Work Regional Park outside of the designated mountain bike area,” said the letter. “There is significant mountain bike use outside of designated areas. Some of the trails have been in place or utilized for a number of years and may be considered through management planning but there is clear evidence of new trails and structures being constructed.”

CRD board chair Colin Plant said the CRD continues to build positive relationships with the mountain biking communities in the region but that unauthorized mountain bike trail building remains an issue in regional parks.

“Many [unauthorized trails] are not built to International Mountain Biking Association and CRD standards, do not meet safety requirements and may be impacting ecologically or culturally sensitive areas,” Plant said. “Any mountain biking opportunities need to keep people connected to nature without compromising the natural integrity that draws people to the parks in the first place.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

The WHL’s Victoria Royals will compete in a 24-game season starting March 26, <strong></strong>based out of a Kamloops and Kelowna B.C. division bubble (Kevin Light/Courtesy Victoria Royals)
‘Important to cherish every moment’: Victoria Royals not taking bubble season for granted

The Victoria WHL team’s coach and GM calls the season a ‘privilege,’ expects fierce rivalries

Oaklands Elementary’s Division 5 Grade 4/5 class posed with Leila Bui (middle), her dad Tuan Bui (crouching to her left) and mom Kairry Nguyen (right) after presenting the family with a cheque for $710 raised by the students during a necklace sale in December 2020. (Photos courtesy Kairry Nguyen)
Victoria students raise funds for girl seriously injured when struck by vehicle in crosswalk

Oaklands Elementary class contributes to purchase of all-terrain wheelchair for Leila Bui

The Victoria Fire Department was able to contain a fire to one room after a bed placed directly against a heater ignited. (Black Press Media file photo)
Early morning Victoria balcony fire causes $20,000 in damages

Victoria Fire Department said nobody was injured in the fire on View Street

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Most Read