British Columbia

Motorcycle club ousted from popular Metro Vancouver park

The Canada Pacific Trials Association has been using and maintaining trails in the Belcarra and Ioco area since 1971. Metro Vancouver Parks has refused to renew their lease.

Canada Pacific Trials Association has been using and maintaining trails in Belcarra and Ioco since 1971

The Canada Pacific Trials Association has been using the trails around the Belcarra region for 50 years. Now, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks wants them out. (Canada Pacific Trials Association)

The Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Committee has refused to renew the lease for a group of motorcycle enthusiasts that has maintained and used trails in the Belcarra region of Metro Vancouver for 50 years. 

David Cameron, director of sustainability for the Canada Pacific Trials Association, says his group wasn't consulted on the renewal of the lease and never had a chance to defend itself. 

"We were shocked at the decision," Cameron said. "We had absolutely no idea that there was anything wrong because they never stated anything."

Trials motorcycle riding is a sport that involves participants navigating obstacle courses through various terrain. Riders are scored on how little they touch the ground with their feet while maintaining course on a slim, light style of motorcycle.

The Canada Pacific Trials Association says the Belcarra region is known around the world as one of the best spots for trials riding. (Canada Pacific Trials Association)

The association first began building trails in the Belcarra and Ioco regions in 1971, when the area was still Crown land and had yet to be established as a park.

It currently has about 200 members and, before the pandemic, hosted competitions about once a month and international competitions on occasion. Members, including national champion Christy Richards, regularly train on the 100-kilometre network of trails, which they also maintain. 

Cameron says the decision cuts the association's access to about half of its trails. He's not sure if they'll still be able to host international competitions. 

He also doesn't know how the association will make that up given that land is at a premium and trials riders are being increasingly squeezed out by mountain bikers and hikers. 

High demand for park space

John McEwen, chair of the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Committee and mayor of the neighbouring Village of Anmore, says the committee's decision was prompted by the booming popularity of the Belcarra region and the environmental degradation caused by the motorcycles. 

"It's really unfortunate because I know that this group has been there a long time," McEwen said.

"There's such a demand on these parks that we need to expand and to be able to facilitate everyone, not just a select few."

Belcarra Regional Park welcomes about 1.3 million visitors a year, McEwen says. The committee wants to further develop the park, he says, and recently entered into a cultural planning agreement with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation to do so. 

McEwen says the board also based its decision on an internal report that found serious environmental degradation in the ecosystem the trails crisscross. 

The report says "the intensive use and resultant damage within the area is inconsistent with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks mandate to protect significant regional natural areas and provide opportunities for people to access nature."

The Canada Pacific Trials Association says trials riding is a family sport, and its members range in age from 3 to 83. (Canada Pacific Trials Association)

In February 2020, the Metro Vancouver board authorized staff to give the association two years' notice to vacate. The Canada Pacific Trials Association is scheduled to respond to the decision at a parks committee meeting this upcoming week. 

In its letter to the committee, the association says "it is evident that this decision was based on misleading and inaccurate information" and asks for a formal consultation process. 

Collaboration needed: Association

Cameron says the association would like to work with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks to ensure it's addressing any issues the committee has.

Its members maintain the trails for all users, he says, and are fine with sharing the terrain.

"We realize it's not our exclusive rights to use these trails," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now