Regional District of Nanaimo directors are expected to vote on a five-year partnership agreement with Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. at their May 26 meeting. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Mount Benson trail restoration agreement in the works

Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. and RDN entered two-year pilot project in 2018

Trail restoration in Mount Benson Regional Park is anticipated to continue if RDN directors approve an agreement with outdoor recreation clubs.

The RDN and the Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. embarked on a pilot project in 2018 that saw restoration and improvement of trails in the Witchcraft Lake and Mount Benson area to mitigate erosion and environmental damage from foot traffic. The RDN committee of the whole is recommending approval of a five-year deal at the May 26 board meeting, for Benson View Regional Trail and other trails in the park, according to a staff report.

The agreement document specifies that work would include draining and hardening of muddy and boggy areas; grubbing rocks, roots and stumps; replenishing trail surface materials; and repairing trail surfaces and areas that have been washed out. In addition, there could be minor trail re-alignment in order to improve trail sustainability and avoid obstacles.

The RDN estimates an annual allocation of $2,000 for materials to assist volunteers in their work, with money coming from the regional parks and trails operations budget, according the report.

The Island Mountain Ramblers, a federation member, would engage in the work, the staff report said.

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When asked at the May 12 committee meeting by Erin Hemmens, Nanaimo director, about whether any other clubs or trail maintenance groups have been approached with a similar offer, Tom Osborne, RDN general manager of recreation and parks, said there have been some instances.

“We have worked with other mountain bike clubs on the lower approaches of Witchcraft Lake and around in supporting permits through Crown land to basically get from one regional park to the other, including the Doumont area…” Osborne said at the meeting. “There is also the multi-party agreement in the Doumont area as well for the lands there that the regional district is involved with the mountain bike club.”

The agreement would run until May 31, 2025, if approved, and has an option for the two sides to extend the deal.

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