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Unhappy trails for Harvey

A celebrated trails advocate credited with spearheading innumerable community enhancement projects is saying goodbye to volunteerism because of what he calls a snub from the District of Squamish.

A celebrated trails advocate credited with spearheading innumerable community enhancement projects is saying goodbye to volunteerism because of what he calls a snub from the District of Squamish.

John Harvey, a principal member of the Squamish Trails Society (STS), quit the organization because, after years of volunteering as a local trails co-ordinator, a newly created district trails co-ordinator position went to someone Harvey said is less qualified.

"I've severed all ties," said Harvey. "I've been giving the district a hell of a good deal for 10 years. This is the way they treat their volunteers so I have to resign."

Harvey was lauded by the Chamber of Commerce when nominated for Citizen of the Year in 2004.

"John has been the driving force behind many community projects including the skateboard park at Brennan Park, numerous bus shelters, the wind wall at the Windsurfing Spit, latrines in the Smoke Bluffs and many others. While volunteering with the Squamish Trails Society, John has helped build over 20 pedestrian bridges throughout our town," stated a 2004 Chamber news release. "His efforts have been integral in the creation of the Discovery Trail, Loggers Creek Trail, plus numerous other community linkage trails, including three important trailhead kiosks and parking lots. Not only does John participate in construction, he takes the lead in working with District staff, DFO, contractors and other organizations to facilitate these projects."

Recreation, Parks and Tourism director Bob Kusch and human resources manager Jennifer Biddlecombe interviewed applicants for the full-time $26 per hour job, and decided the position should go to Todd Pope, another former STS member.

Kusch said that Pope's credentials are a good fit for the job.

"He's got a diploma in outdoor recreation, he's worked with community groups throughout his time in Squamish, he has a great deal of experience in rallying volunteers he has a vast knowledge of the community and he has a very good attitude toward how this position would fit in both with the municipal structure and to work with the community groups and get things done," said Kusch.

"Todd's a nice guy but he's not a doer," said Harvey.

Pope said one of the biggest priorities the district has is to establish standards and guidelines for existing and new trails. He also intends to help extend trails to create a viable commuter network linking northern and southern neighbourhoods - a project spearheaded by former Coun. Ray Peters, Ted Prior and John Harvey.

"I'm looking forward to a new challenge and being a voice for the trails within the community and linking the different communities together," said Pope.

Harvey said the reason Kusch gave him for the decision was that he was too much of a "maverick".

"I've pushed the envelope a little bit here and there I've not followed all of the correct bureaucratic processes, but yet I'm a doer - I got things done," said Harvey. "I married my two part-time jobs as a youth worker and as a life skills worker out of 'maverickness' taken these clients and done community work at a favourable deal for the district."

Kusch would not discuss the decisions behind the appointment since it was an "internal matter."

STS president Bob Brant said the position is a positive step for the community and Harvey's comments should not reflect on the organization. The new position exists partly due to STS and SORCA council presentations and Brant said he looks forward to moving forward once the job description is more clearly defined.

"There's a lot going on with development in Squamish and it takes a lot of time to attend the meetings and to be on top of all the issues related to trails and other things as well," said Brant. "The STS is hoping the position will facilitate those issues and act as a facilitator for planning developing and building trails. These are all things that'll need to be determined and put into place on the ground. We've got the job description and we've got the thoughts, now we'll have to put it into reality."

It is estimated that there are approximately 200 km of trails within the District of Squamish and many more just beyond municipal boundaries. Many follow old logging roads and some have been developed as short cuts between areas of development. The horse community has established trails in their favorite riding areas and the climbing community has developed a myriad of small rough trails into the local bluffs. Birders maintain trails in the Estuary and fishermen have made winding paths alongside the rivers. With the explosive growth of mountain biking, about 10 km of additional trails are built each year.

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