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No voting SORCA member for Smoke Bluffs Committee

The committee asked council to add a voting member of SORCA


 In a divided vote, council decided to turn down a proposal to add SORCA as a voting member of the Smoke Bluffs Park Committee.

On May 7, councillors Chris Pettingill, Jenna Stoner, Doug Race and Mayor Karen Elliott voted against adding a member of the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association to the committee.

Councillors John French, Eric Andersen and Armand Hurford were in favour of the proposal.

The idea of adding SORCA as a voting member came about after a miscommunication resulted in trail design problems in the Smoke Bluffs.

Mountain bikers raised concerns about how the partially-built East Side Loop Trail intersected with historically-used mountain biking and motorcycle paths.

They said this could lead to significant safety issues, among other things.

As a result, the committee decided that a portion of East Side Loop Trail would be reclaimed, a recommendation that was approved unanimously by District council.

The reclamation will be from the northern edge of the Grand Doug Crag cleared area to the end of the built portion of Phase 2, or the second section.

Furthermore, to avoid miscommunication in the future, the Bluffs committee recommended that council amend bylaws to add a voting member from SORCA.

Council denied this request.

Those against adding SORCA noted that they had just recently added a fifth member-at-large position to the Smoke Bluffs Park Committee to make room for Wesley Staven.

Staven is a well-regarded member who reapplied for his position but didn't get back in prior to council allocating a fifth position.

"I appreciate the need to have diverse representation at the table. I think that a one-off bylaw amendment is not the right approach here just to give SORCA a voting seat at the table," said Coun. Stoner.

"The reality is that these are open meetings to the public. I think at this point, if SORCA wants to attend those meetings, they are more than welcome to."

"I won't be supporting this motion," said Mayor Elliott. "I think what was learned here [was] that there was an engagement issue, not a membership-on-the-committee issue."

Elliott said the committee has learned through this experience how to engage with different trail users, but that it doesn't need to a new bylaw to add another voting member.

Coun. Andersen supporting adding the extra member, saying it wouldn't hurt to add one more person, as the committee sometimes has difficulty reaching a quorum.

"I think this was asked for by the committee to take a very solid step to show that they're dedicated to reducing conflict and the likelihood of conflict," said Coun. Hurford.

He said that SORCA was actually asked to join the committee a while ago, but back then, the organization didn't have the capacity and turned down the invitation.

"I feel this is a needed step for this committee," Hurford said.

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