WORCA getting vocal
After a concerted membership drive over the course of the summer, the Whistler Off Road cycling Association has become a political force to be reckoned with.
Membership numbers swelled from just over 20 last spring to 245 at the end of the summer. At the WORCA annual general meeting last week, about 30 members voted to support the executive — returning the board of directors for a second term and an expanded mandate to go forth and be vocal.
While other service clubs in the valley may have dozens of members, WORCA is well on track to 300 members. Two of the biggest issues facing the group are development, which threatens some of Whistler's oldest trails, and a lack of commitment to trail maintenance by the thousands of riders using the local trail network. WORCA communications director Grant Lamont says the group is going to get talking — to politicians and to riders.
"WORCA is a large and vocal group and people are going to start to hear us regarding our rights as recreational users," says Lamont. He will be joined on the executive by president Al Grey, social director John Bland, secretary Bob Lorriman membership director John Barber and competition and social director Stacie White.
For the first time ever, WORCA held its AGM in the fall, giving the board of directors a mandate to get to work on political matters, such as trail advocacy and access, and to pursue ways to raise funds for trail maintenance.
The smooth selling voice of Barber has been the main reason for the increase in membership, as he has co-ordinated information and membership booths at numerous mountain bike events this summer. WORCA got involved in the local Loonie Race scene, putting together a race calendar and providing race organizers with insurance.
"The Loonie Races pretty well take care of themselves," says Lamont. "We have to get some of the people that show up to the races to get responsible and start showing up for some trail maintenance nights."
The state of local trails is not that great as legions of riders ride them every day, yet only a dedicated fraction of those riders show up for trail maintenance workshops.
"The meat and potatoes of what we are gong to be doing is trail access and trail maintenance," Lamont says. "With the amount of growth we have experienced it is time to get that membership organized and mobilized to protect and enhance the trails that we already have, because building new ones is a lot harder than protecting the ones we have."
WORCA is also going to be looking for more youth involvement and may find enough sponsors to potentially hire students to maintain trails next summer.