A new $120,000 trail could be created for mountain bikers this year. The Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) is planning to construct Epic Climb and descent loop after some fundraising, according to Tim Tallevi, the trail crew and maintenance director for SORCA.
Tallevi and Jeff Cooke, president of the association, presented the concept to council Jan. 5.
“From the top of Half Nelson, it is going to extend another three or four kilometres over, up almost to the park boundary at the top of Upper Powersmart and then we are going to have a descent, a blue descent… another five kilometres or so descent to the top of Pseudotsuga,” Cooke said, adding that the completed trail is a loop riders have long wanted.
Although more details about the trail and funding for it will be released at the SORCA annual general meeting Feb. 2, the current plan is the new trail would be funded by $20,000 from a legacy fund, $30,000 from the associations’ memberships, $30,000 from a sponsorship program and about $40,000 from crowd funding.
Cooke said whenever the Squamish trail network is expanded, it is a huge draw for riders from outside the district.
“I think it is a really nice fit with economic development,” he said.
For maintenance of existing trails in 2016, SORCA is asking the district for $70,000, up from $60,000 last year. The association plans to spend $110,000 on trail maintenance.
Cooke said the increased traffic and pressure on the trails makes it hard to keep up with the needed and expected trail maintenance.
“Maintaining the status quo is becoming increasingly hard. We can deal with it, it is just taking more resources,” said Cooke.
He said damage done by BC Hydro crews has taken time to repair, and the erratic weather combined with the increased traffic mean more resources are needed.
Increased district funding would allow the association to hire three trail workers for 20 weeks.
“We are trying to keep our asset from deteriorating to where it doesn’t look like what people came to town for,” he said.
In 2016, the focus of maintenance will be on several trails including Tracks from Hell, Recycle, Your Mom and Meet Your Maker.
In 2015 the association worked on maintenance of several trails including Half Nelson, Full Nelson, Recycle, Your Mom, Poop Alley and Tracks from Hell, among others.
Work included crews removing dangerous trees, branches and deadfall, improving sightlines and rerouting water off the trails.
Councillor Susan Chapelle, herself a mountain biker, said supporting SORCA was a no-brainer.
“This is what we are known for. We bring in tons of people. To me, the money is an absolute bargain compared to what we pay for studying economic development,” she said. “This is something we can actually do.”
Council is currently in budget deliberations.