Since its inception, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) has always had a clear mandate that its volunteers and paid contractors strictly maintain trails, they don't build them. On Tuesday (Dec. 4) a Special General Meeting was called to amend the constitution to include building new trails, subject to approval.
“Putting trail building into the constitution was a way of us saying 'yes we will be involved in building trails,' but only following strict approval processes as well as both Whistler and IMBA trail standards,” said WORCA president James Brooks.
The motivation behind the change is due to a proposed trail development on Sproatt Mountain in conjunction with the RMOW, the provincial government, Cheakamus Community Forest, Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA)and the Alpine Club of Canada. The trail system would include shared multi-use trails as well as specific trails for both mountain bikers and hikers. By connecting the trail head in Function Junction to Whistler Olympic Park and the Rainbow Trail for mountain bikers and hikers respectively, the goal would be to create a looping network connecting several access points. Currently trail builders working on new trails are all contracted by the municipality with WORCA being charged with maintenance of the existing network. But to tackle a project of this size, WORCA is now ready to dedicate a share of its resources to expanding its trail system. Monthly talks have been taking place at municipal hall since June to make sure that all user groups and stakeholders are satisfied with the proposed trail development.
“Our longer range plans for the more elevated areas are for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, so in that sense their plans work well with our plans,” said Allan Crawford, the owner of CWA who holds a 30-year tenure in the Callaghan Valley including parts of Sproatt Mountain.
“Business wise it’s great for us,” he said.
CWA currently runs ATV tours on Sproatt throughout the summer, though travel is mainly limited to wide logging roads. There are currently very few self propelled visitors to the area mostly due to the lack of dedicated trails. However, some mountain bike trail work has been conducted in the area without consultation with other stakeholders, an activity termed “rogue building,” something that WORCA is discouraging as they move forward with the Sproatt development.
“We want to have controlled development up there because it is a fragile ecosystem,” said Brooks. “It's all about proper trail design and proper trail maintenance. We have the resources.”
Another goal of WORCA is to negotiate with the province to legalize existing trails in the Whistler Valley, many that were constructed by rogue trail builders in years past.
“It would be nice to see that every new trail is built to both Whistler standards and IMBA standards,” said Brooks. “By legitimizing the work that we will be doing we hope to gain some funding so we can add to the network and piece things together.”
WORCA is also hoping for the Sproatt development to show BC Parks how hikers and bikers can function in the same areas with minimal conflict. Contrary to public opinion, BC Parks have upheld their mandate to not allow mountain biking in the Spearhead area of Garibaldi Provincial Park.