The president of a local biking club is hoping to work with the City of Campbell River in exploring grant opportunities to increase bike trail infrastructure in the region.
In a letter to Campbell River City Council, River City Cycling Club President Brian Yells says while the club has been exploring many granting opportunities to improve the region’s trail systems, the support of city council would go a long way to furthering that goal.
“Over the past couple years, several areas across Vancouver Island have received funding for trail work initiatives, and as the president of the club, I’m frequently asked why Campbell River doesn’t seem to receive similar funding support,” Yells writes, pointing to the provincial government’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program’s Destination Development grant program, in which the Campbell River area was seemingly ignored in the distribution of $20-million worth of funding – $3.54-million of which went to Vancouver Island.
“For some reason Campbell River does not seem to be on the radar as a priority when it comes to tourism and funding,” Yells writes. “I would like to request that the city council help explore/support other funding opportunities that may be available to help support the work of the RCCC on our trail networks.”
Council, in receiving the letter, says it’s happy to support the group’s efforts, provided they can do the trail infrastructure work without negatively impacting forestry activity in the region.
“I’m very supportive of getting help for infrastructure projects,” says Coun. Sean Smyth. “Mountain bike cycling has been the one tourism activity that’s actually grown during COVID,” adding that it’s a “high-income tourism, so this is something that the city should really get behind and be in support of.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield says the city does support mountain biking tourism, as shown by its past support of projects like the trails in the Snowden Demonstration Forest. He also, however, feels that forestry companies and First Nations should be more involved in the process of developing trails and making upgrades.
“I spent my career doing trails and campgrounds and everything else, and there’s kickback from the forestry sector when (trail builders) go in private land, and then try to influence forestry operations by saying that there’s trails,” Cornfield says.
Coun. Smyth agrees with Cornfield that the process needs to be more collaborative with industry, as does Mayor Andy Adams.
“Having been to the bike ranch in Kamloops and seeing the operations down in Cumberland, hearing from the BC Bike Race … it’s certainly just an exploding industry,” Adams says, “but it certainly has to be done in collaboration with industry so that they can both coexist and there aren’t conflicts. We want to create a win/win situation.”
Council voted to pass the letter on to the city’s Economic Development Department for “consideration and action,” as well as to the Strathcona Regional District, as they will likely need to be involved in any trail building initiatives in the region outside city limits, as well.