Squamish's Off Road Cycling Association has launched a voluntary trail-passes-for-sale campaign to help raise funds for maintenance.
Collectively, SORCA volunteers have spent thousands of hours of volunteer time in trail maintenance on more than 100 trails around Squamish and beyond. But as the trail network expands and the existing trails suffer wear and tear, SORCA has felt the need to deal with trails funding more professionally.
The idea for a trail pass stemmed from that need, but the driving force behind it was SORCA's trail maintenance director, Chris McCrum, who said the spur for the pass came after the organization received one-time funding of $63,000 in 2010 from the National Trails Coalition.
That funding, part of the federal economic stimulus package, was used to hire several contractors to do maintenance and construction of local trails such as Entrails in Garibaldi Highlands. McCrum said once SORCA had that money for 2010, it started to look for other avenues to make that funding more continuous every year.
"We wanted to do something that is voluntary, but also wanted to have a way of getting money from people that are actually using that resource, like a user-pay system," he said.
Squamish has become a popular biking destination, McCrum added, but ironically people who use the trails often offer little in the way of financial support. Instead they buy something from the bike store or have beer at the local pub. Most of their money never trickles down to trails, even though riding the trails was why they were in Squamish in the first place.
The trail pass plan was unveiled at SORCA's annual general meeting earlier this year. The passes started appearing in local bike shops last month. Of the 1,000 passes printed, 500 went to SORCA riders as part of their membership.
McCrum is hoping that SORCA will be able to sell the remaining 500.
"If we can do that, we can use that money to leverage some funding for matching grants," he said.
"All this money will go to the maintenance of our trails."
Trail maps by Ryan Robertson are also for sale with $3 from each purchase going to the trail pass fund.
"It's just so amazing when people come here and buy this trail pass," said Sandra Brull of Corsa Cycles. "This is just great because it means people want to support out trails."
Corsa Cycles has already sold close to 50 trail passes, which are available at any bike shop in Squamish. At the Republic Bike Shop in Brackendale, owner Armand Hurford said the pass has been well received by the mountain biking enthusiasts who frequent his shop.
"If you are in town for few days and you want to contribute to our local trails, buy this pass. It's a great way of giving back," he said.
The trails pass is voluntary, but SORCA executive members are hoping that trail users would buy it like it was mandatory.
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