More room to park — then ride in Squamish | Squamish Chief

More room to park — then ride in Squamish

Newly expanded Darwin's Parking Lot a collaboration between SDBA and SORCA

Vehicles can now more easily social distance from each other at the parking lot on the Diamond Head Access Road.

In recent years, the popular dirt and mountain biking access spot at the so-called Darwin's Parking Lot has been a tight squeeze.

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 Thus, the heads of the Squamish Dirt Bike Association and the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association, with support from Alistair McCrone, the provincial recreation officer for the Sea to Sky, collaborated to expand the lot.

"It was well-used for many, many years. For each progressive year, it got more and more crowded," said Ed Alder, president of the Squamish Dirt Bike Association (SDBA).

"We came to the conclusion a few years back when we had 19 trucks and trailer combinations jackstrawed in there at one point. on a mid-week day after work... it was definitely time to get something proper built. "

The lot is one of the main access points to the "Lava Flow" trail network between Mamquam River and Ring Creek.

Popular mountain bike Diamond Head Slope trails are also accessed from this lot, thus it made sense to collaborate with SORCA, Alder said.

before
The lot with tons of vehicles crammed in, before the lot was expanded. - Courtesy Ed Alder

The new lot is a two-tiered 30 by 60-metred area that can accommodate about 50 vehicles and some trailers, Alder said.

"The biggest fear is the old statement 'build it and they will come' and our goal is not to bring more people," he said, adding the idea was to accommodate those who are already coming.

"We had out-parked our sustainability and now we are back to it."

At the lot, there is also a new three-sided information kiosk and an outhouse, something female riders had pushed for, according to Alder.

"They see the value in having those facilities much more than the male riders," he said.

The SDBA has approximately 150 members and half are female, according to Alder.

"They have done such a wonderful job of rounding out our ridership and they bring more to the table than I can possibly put into words," he said.

The two user groups, SDBA and SORCA have collaborated before on projects.

"The first collaborative project we worked on with SORCA was when we were first getting started to build the trail network and Darwin's Crossing... across Ring Creek was one log," Alder said, with a laugh at the name, which referred to the survival of the fittest nature of the crossing at the time. "We collaborated and built a wooden-truss bridge."

That bridge has since been replaced by a metal bridge.

The bottom line is if you don't work together, you aren't going to survive, Alder added.

Jeff Norman, president of SORCA agreed, adding the two groups have a great working relationship. "And that isn't always the case in a lot of towns," he said.

He credits Alder for being the one to spearhead this project.

"Obviously, Squamish is a really popular spot and mountain biking is the biggest one in town by a long shot, but there are big parking issues up on Diamond head — and not a lot of good places for a parking lot. Fixing parking up there is going to take a number of small approaches and we were happy to collaborate on this one."

This project was funded partially through the Off-Road Vehicle Trail Fund, which takes a portion of vehicle registration fees collected by ICBC. The fund's goal is to enhance off-road vehicle trails, according to the provincial government.

"Local clubs have to provide matching funds to get those funds and that is where SORCA helped out and the SDBA and Recreation Sites and Trails BC all put in matching funds," Norman said.

 

*Please note, this story has been updated to more accurately reflect the exact size of the parking lot.

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