Section of Squamish's controversial Smoke Bluffs trail to be rebuilt

Park committee meeting hears complaints from biking community

The Smoke Bluffs Park Committee voted to reclaim part of the partially built East Side Loop Trail. 

The trail was designed to lead to the Grand Doug climbing crag, and its construction had been broken down into two sections, but much of the trail's second phase was done at the same time as the first.

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As soon as riders saw the newly constructed trail, there was shock and outrage, with many airing their grievances online over the past few weeks.

At the April 18 meeting at municipal hall, Gary Buxton, the general manager of community development and infrastructure for the District, said there was a lack of communication between the committee, District staff and the contractor about what work needed to be done for phase one.

"We could and should have been a little bit clearer," Buxton said. "The contractors are very familiar with the territory, they're very familiar with the park, they're very familiar with the trail plan. We all made some assumptions that we were all on the same page about the work that was to be performed."

In the meeting, the committee also said the trail had been flagged, but that flagging had been removed by someone else.

When members of the public spoke at the meeting, among them members of  SORCA, 99 Trials and other mountain bikers, most spoke about what they thought was a lack of consultation about how the trail intersected with historically used mountain biking and motorcycle paths. Although Smoke Bluffs Park was initially established by climbing groups and intended to link to climbing crags, the trail to Grand Doug was slated to be a multi-use trail.

"The way the trail has been built now, there are walking trails leading directly up mountain bike trails, including mountain bikers dropping off obstacles and landing on the walking trail," said Tyler Jordan, a Squamish resident and mountain biker familiar with the historic trail. "I can't overstate that if things remain as they are, even with signage, eventually something bad is going to happen."

Committee member-at-large Michael Jones said he found another way to the Grand Doug crag that he said would require little work, and the access would be easier and shorter.

Most of the guests who spoke offered not only to be consultants for safe mountain biking, but volunteered to reclaim the trail themselves.

"We're building a trail that's going to last a generation or more. We're trying to build this for a long period of time.... Now is the time to make any reparations so that it's right going forward," one of the committee members said.

The committee will do another walk-through of both the existing trail and the proposed trail, with members of the mountain biking community. They will map the trail as-is, locate safety concerns and discuss putting signs along the trail. The Smoke Bluffs Park Committee also passed a motion to recommend that District council invite SORCA to sit on the committee.

Phase two of the trail is currently on hold, and will be discussed at the next Smoke Bluffs Park Committee meeting.  

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