British Columbia

City of Burnaby backpedals on mountain bike trail closures

A City of Burnaby spokesman says signs posted on Burnaby Mountain this week declaring that trails popular with mountain bikers had been designated as hiker-only or decommissioned were installed in error.

Maps posted around Burnaby Mountain showed multiple mountain bike trails decommissioned or hiker-only

A mountain biker is pictured on a trail on Burnaby Mountain in July, 2019. On Thursday, signs posted around the mountain declared several mountain bike trails closed or designated hiker-only. The city says the signs were a mistake. (Burnaby Mountain Bike Association)

Burnaby Mountain Bike Association president Judy Garren began receiving messages from members of the bike community on Thursday. Until the notes, she hadn't heard anything about plans to close several popular mountain bike trails to riders.

"I was horrified. [It was] just completely out of the blue," Garren said of the apparent trail closures. "Burnaby Mountain is used by all skill levels. It's just, to have this taken away with no discussion, no input from the user groups, it was just a complete shock — very disappointing."

Garren said she got in touch with a parks co-ordinator with the city, who she says rationalized the decision and blamed trail erosion for the changes.

By Friday, however, City of Burnaby spokesperson Chris Bryan said in a written statement to CBC News that no trail closures had taken place.

"Unfortunately, signage was posted in error that indicated otherwise and we are replacing it," said Bryan. "We apologize for any confusion or anxiety this may have created."

Garren said on Friday afternoon that she hadn't heard anything directly from city officials since her conversation with the parks co-ordinator, and it was only through media reports that she's learned there had been a mixup that would be reversed.

A photo posted in October, 2018, shows volunteers taking part in a Burnaby Mountain Bike Association trail day. (Burnaby Mountain Bike Association)

She said some of the popular trails mistakenly posted as closed to mountain bikers included Mel's Trail, Nicole's Trail, and Gearjammer.

Volunteers ready to do more work

She said the concern about trail erosion is valid, and that trail use appears to have increased during the pandemic. But Garren said her association is eager to address trail conditions with more maintenance days.

She said the group is currently limited to four trail days each year, when dozens of volunteers do maintenance alongside two unionized city workers and the parks co-ordinator.

Garren said she would be happy to double the number of days, perhaps doing some without the need for city staff attending.

"We could get so much more done," she said.

Bryan didn't explain how the signs were created and posted in error, only that policy hadn't been followed.

"It's the City's process to consult with user groups before any decisions are made about changes to trail designations. Any staff recommendations must also go to the parks, recreation and culture commission and city council," he said.


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About the Author

Rafferty Baker is a video journalist with CBC News, based in Vancouver. You can find his stories on CBC Radio, television, and online at cbc.ca/bc.

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