There may be happier trails in West Vancouver following council’s unanimous approval of a new path plan April 9.
However, one councillor expressed concerns the comprehensive plan might not translate “from the paper into the woods.”
The report’s vaguely worded recommendations demonstrate: “no commitment to maintain our trails to a higher standard,” said Coun. Craig Cameron.
The implementation plans calls for: “a trail maintenance program that identifies maintenance standards and procedures, and frequency of maintenance.” The initiative – one of 29 in the report – is defined as low-cost, meaning it’s not expected to exceed $50,000.
Some West Vancouver trails – including sections of the Baden Powell Trail – are in poor condition and might need an expensive fix, Cameron said.
“This all looks like studying the maintenance issue but not necessarily acting on it, ‘cause if it was acting on it, the relative costs wouldn’t be not-applicable or low, that’s for sure,” he said.
The 10-year plan also calls for an expansion of the park ranger program, which currently allocates one seasonal ranger for the district’s approximately 135 kilometres of trail.
While the district parks department does annual trail work, there isn’t enough funding or staff to monitor and maintain trails, some of which are widening and eroding, according to the report.
One of the top priorities in the report is to “convey the importance of not building unauthorized trails.” Currently, trail building groups aren’t working with the district, the report noted.
The report is also a landmark for mountain bikers, as the district recognizes mountain biking as a trail use to be incorporated into planning. The potential for conflicts on the trails increases when there are “speed differences between users,” the report noted.
There may be trails that could be “solely look after” by the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, according to Coun. Bill Soprovich, who noted the government of Colorado’s decision to allocate trail space to mountain bikers.
The report also prioritizes a consistent wayfinding system through the Upper Lands as well as establishing online information and apps to help visitors navigate the district’s trails, as there is currently no overall trail network map for the public.
The report also addressed concerns about dogs tromping into sensitive ecosystems along trails, recommending dogs be barred from or kept on-leash on certain trails and allowed to roam free on others.
The plan includes five projects expected to cost between $250,000 and $1 million in total, as well as 16 initiatives, each expected to cost less than $50,000. The recommendations are slated to be implemented over 10 years.
The trails plan came to council two months after a Surrey man launched a lawsuit against West Vancouver, alleging he suffered head injuries after a rotten stair along Stokes Trail collapsed. According to his statement of claim, the district was responsible for allowing the staircase to fall into disrepair and for failing to erect warning signs around the stairs.