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Move On: Interesting decisions to be made extending Spirit Trail to Deep Cove

It's great news that the District of North Vancouver is extending the Spirit Trail to Deep Cove. But what route should it take?

Maybe you’ve met my friends Bev and Sally who live in the Seymour area?

They’re super-active women who love going on long bike rides with fellow senior riders. But when it comes to piloting their bikes out of the area, they’re stumped. And, honestly, who can blame them? The options for cycling out of Parkgate or Deep Cove are pretty terrible. You either ride on the clamorous Mount Seymour Parkway next to speeding cars, or take a more precarious route on Dollarton Highway. White knuckles and frowny faces either way.

But here’s some good news! North Vancouver District is finally funding the Spirit Trail East from Maplewood to Deep Cove.

The Spirit Trail began as a 2010 Winter Olympics legacy with the goal of promoting sustainable transportation and active living through biking, walking, skating, rolling and more. The idea is to tie communities together across the North Shore via one continuous 30-kilometre multi-use path from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. The longest segment runs from just west of Ambleside through Lonsdale Quay to Park and Tilford. Many of us have enjoyed this wide, well-lit, track. And it’s not just for bikes. People walking, running, inline skaters, scooters, skateboarders and people with mobility devices benefit from the Spirit Trail as well. It’s truly a tremendous public resource that we can all enjoy.

In North Van District there’s a portion developed in Norgate as well as the fabulous new bridge across Lynn Creek and the path up from there over to the Superstore. Maplewood to Deep Cove has not been touched, though potential routes have been identified since 2013. Now the district has set a budget for the Spirit Trail East. Yay!

The district is considering several possible routes in the “spirit” of connecting communities and public amenities like parks and shopping centers. The routes would use a combination of existing multi-use pathways, on-street neighbourhood bikeways and forested trails, some of which were mapped out a decade ago. See the gallery above for maps of potential southern and northern routes created back in 2013.

I recently toured this area with Deep Cove resident and bike person Will Schuurman and District of North Vancouver Coun. Catherine Pope.

We concluded that the costs to build out the 2013 potential southern route with three new bridges at McCartney Creek, Thomas Creek and Taylor Creek would be very high. Not saying this can’t happen or shouldn’t … but. On the other side, the potential northern route includes some ridonculously steep hills no matter how you slice it. Ooof! Yet another reason to ride an ebike?

What about a multi-use path along the picturesque and flatter Dollarton Highway, if and only if the Tsleil-Waututh Nation approve a route through their lands?

Hmm, this won’t be easy.

What’s next? The district has hired a transportation planner to review plans and plot a new course for the Spirit Trail East, consulting with stakeholders including local residents. There are many challenges and a lot of possibilities. Perhaps different routing using other roads and paths would make more sense? Can we get more funding from other levels of government to build the three bridges?

No matter which Spirit Trail East route we actually build, I hope there comes a day in my lifetime when Sally and Bev will even consider riding over to my place in Lonsdale. That day will come. Right?

Heather Drugge is a sustainable transportation advocate who has used her bike for transportation for more than 20 years. She’s got an e-bike now, and maybe a jetpack next. [email protected]