The mountain biking trails in Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. (PQB file photo)

The mountain biking trails in Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. (PQB file photo)

Regional District of Nanaimo plots funding stream to promote mountain biking trails

Plan is to use sport as economic, tourism driver

The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to create a funding stream for the purpose of leveraging mountain biking as both economic and cultural driver in the region.

RDN staff presented a report at the Regional Trails and Parks Select Committee meeting, Feb. 2, outlining the plan that will involve mountain biking associations from Nanaimo and Parksville Qualicum Beach. The groups have indicated desire to expand their role in the promotion, development and maintenance of trail networks.

The objective of creating a funding stream is to enhance dialogue on ways to capitalize on mountain biking in the region. It will involve discussions with a myriad of sectors that include user groups, landowners, tourism organizations, municipalities and the regional district.

“There’s some great opportunity here,” said Yann Gagnon, manager of RDN parks. “The area is known and a very popular spot for mountain biking. And that can be observed in many spots in the regional district.”

Trailforks, an online trail database and management system, has recorded ridership in the region rising from 663 riders annually in 2014 to 18,378 per year in 2020. The region offers 10 different riding networks with more than 400 trails of varying terrain.

Tourism Nanaimo has also reported that the region is rapidly becoming one of the most popular spots on the Island for mountain biking.

Two non-profit volunteer groups, the Arrowsmith Cycling Club and the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club, have been involved in the creation and maintenance of trails in the region. They have been working to stay in par with two mountain bike groups in the Village of Cumberland, which has deemed itself the epicentre for Island riding. But according to the Nanaimo group, the growth in the sport and the increased demand for well-maintained, sanctioned trails is no longer sustainable for a non-profit volunteer organization to manage.

READ MORE: Family-friendly mountain biking trails a new attraction at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Staff recommended up to $30,000 be incorporated in the draft 2022 regional park operational budget. The committee endorsed the motion that will be presented to the RDN board for approval later this month.

Not all directors are keen on setting up a funding stream limited to just one particular recreational group.

Electoral Area G Director Lehann Wallace and Nanaimo director Ian Thorpe agreed the focus of the plan is too narrow as it only serves the mountain biking groups. They want the plan to be broader to include other possible beneficiaries such as hikers and fly fishers.

“I am a little hesitant about the scope of it and calling it mountain biking because the next group that’s going to come will be the pump track (BMXers) people and how we’re going to manage that,” said Wallace. “I have more questions and answers at this point but to be in support of moving this to perhaps the next level where we could receive recommendations and make decisions on the actual how to achieve this. I don’t think that there’s many that are debating the opportunity but I think as a committee we should be figuring a clear path on how we can maximize that opportunity.”

Nanaimo director Ben Geselbracht said mountain biking has been a mainstay in Cumberland and Squamish. He pointed out the regional district is probably sitting on the most world-class mountain biking spot in North America that is underdeveloped.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Mountain bikingNanaimo Regional DistrictParksvillequalicum beach

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Nanaimo man is offering a $300 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who broke into his SUV and stole components from his drone. (News Bulletin file photo)
Drone owner offering reward after components stolen from his vehicle in Nanaimo

Vehicle break-in happened last month on Departure Bay Road

Regenerative farming that meets genuine needs should take priority over commercial recklessness, says columnist. (Stock photo)
Column: Hubris, greed causing humans to live destructively

Placing the economy as the top priority is licence to destroy natural systems, says columnist

Kyle Patrick McGuire was give a nine-month non-custodial sentencing to be followed by two years of probation on Wednesday, March 3, at the Nanaimo Law Courts. (PQB News file photo)
Bowser man sentenced to house arrest after guilty plea to child pornography offence

Nine-month non-custodial sentence to be followed by two years probation

A concept for development of the Green Thumb property in north Nanaimo. (Barefoot Planning and Design image)
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Develop land with care and thought

It’s getting to the point that you can’t go a block without seeing more apartments, says letter writer

Nanaimo Community Archives is looking for submissions from homeowners who took on exterior renovation projects, no matter how big or how small, for the first Heritage House Renovations Awards. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo archives holding first Heritage House Renovation Awards

Judges want photos and descriptions of exterior renovations that enhanced character of Nanaimo homes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A rendering of Front Street transportation improvements set to get underway as soon as next week. (McElhanney image/City of Nanaimo)
Work set to start on Front Street cycle track in downtown Nanaimo

Road work and street reconfiguration project scheduled to start in March, finish in May

The Regional District of Nanaimo’s board is forwarding a motion on illegal dumping to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities’ upcoming annual general meeting. (Kane Blake photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo motion seeks to ask province for help to combat illegal dumping

RDN resolution to be forwarded to Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read