British Columbia

Landowner closes most of Mount Seymour's mountain bike trails

Mountain bikers in North Vancouver were surprised to find some of their favourite trails suddenly marked by prominent 'no trespassing' signs last week.

Mount Seymour in North Vancouver has been a hotspot for mountain bikers for at least 20 years

A sign posted last week on Mount Seymour forbids anyone, including mountain bikers, from using the area. (NSMBA)

For more than 20 years, mountain bikers in Metro Vancouver have flocked to the North Shore for its legendary trails. But many were surprised to find a huge swath of Mount Seymour in North Vancouver suddenly off limits last week.

New "no trespassing" signs were put up on all the trails running through a chunk of land owned by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 

Many bikers, including pro rider and co-author of Locals' Guide to North Shore Rides, Wade Simmons, hadn't even realized the CMHC owned land on Mount Seymour.

"They were a bit of an absent landowner, and I've never heard any issues in the 20, 25 years I've ridden on the Shore," said Simmons on Wednesday. "It's really surprising."

Simmons lives in North Vancouver and says he's probably ridden on Mount Seymour once a week for the past two decades.

"You wonder why [the signs are there]. You kind of wonder what's going on. It's a bit of a mystery," he said.

The North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA), which is responsible for managing and maintaining many of the trails, declined to comment on the new signs, saying in an emailed statement that it was waiting to hear back from CMHC.

The group posted a map on its website showing the affected trails and the patchwork of land ownership in the area, which includes the District of North Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, and B.C. Parks.

A map created by Trailforks shows the patchwork of land ownership in the Mount Seymour area, as well as the trails affected by the new 'no trespassing' signs. (Trailforks/NSMBA)

CMHC said in a statement emailed to CBC News that it has no immediate plans for its 644-acre property on Mount Seymour that it refers to as vacant. The statement notes that CMHC has jointly owned the land with the Province of B.C. since 1968.

"As part of the continued management of the property, existing signage was reviewed and it was determined that they required updating. As such, approximately 25 signs were posted throughout the property," the statement read.

"CMHC is reviewing all options for future use of the site."

NSMBA, in a note posted on its website, urged its members and mountain bikers using the area to follow the new signs and avoid using the affected trails. 

Mountain biker Liam Baker rides a trail on Mount Seymour. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

But riders like Simmons were left shaking their heads at the sudden move by CMHC.

"I think everyone's kind of in confusion," he said, adding that the trails were built in a seemingly legitimate fashion. "Now all these signs pop up ... It's kind of odd."

"The bottom line is, mountain bikers aren't the under-the-radar, rogue group anymore. You know, they're doctors, lawyers, teachers, they come from all aspects of life — they're taxpayers and taxpayers want to use their land and mountain biking is a legitimate recreation now."

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker