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While acknowledging that some mountain bikers are discouraged, Aikman also allowed that the door hadn't closed on the process yet, encouraging participants to make comments on the draft before the public input period closes for good on Jan. 10. "We're still interested in hearing from you," she told the attendees, "and we're giving you the opportunity."
The Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association has been lobbying for mountain bike access to Singing Pass since its inception in 1989, and in fact the Garibaldi Park Management Plan update from 1990 that removed mountain bike access was one of the reasons WORCA was founded in the first place. The group has put together a proposal for BC Parks on how the park could be shared between hikers and mountain bikers, while pledging support to build and maintain trails that can handle the traffic.
Former WORCA president and event director, Tony Horn, pointed out that BC Parks met other stakeholder groups like heliskiing and took advantage of BC Parks' statement that the door was still open to press for a meeting between WORCA and BC Parks before Jan. 10 — a request that BC Parks agreed to.
Jerome David, who stepped down as WORCA's director of trails last year after several years with the board, had a hand in coming up with the idea for WORCA's proposal and hopes that BC Parks will at least give it a chance.
The WORCA proposal would allow bikes on one section of the Singing Pass trail going uphill only. When the trail reaches the alpine, WORCA would build a separate alpine trail to reduce conflicts with hikers and then another descent down the Singing Creek drainage to connect with existing trails at Cheakamus Lake.
He said he has biked across Europe, including a lot of high alpine riding, and believes that BC Parks is overstating both the conflict and erosion issues.
"By opening up to mountain bikes and getting WORCA involved it's win-win — we can help manage any conflict, we get our alpine riding, and BC Parks gets added value, more money for trails and hands-on trail building and maintenance," he said.
"I don't think (BC Parks) recognizes the difference between cross-country and downhill. In my experience, a well-built trail will keep riders on the trail."
David said bikes climbing Singing Pass will be moving slowly, and by separating hikers and bikers in the alpine there won't be any impact when speeds start to pick up. As well, he suggested that mountain bikers are there to enjoy the scenery as much as the hikers, and the trail would be a different experience than other freeride trails.
"I'm glad they said that they'll leave the door open for discussion," said David. "We only want a small piece of the Spearhead Study Area. We're not interested in the Spearhead Traverse trails, just in sharing the Singing Pass climb."
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