British Columbia

Hikers and bikers furious over Vedder Mountain closure

Road maintenance of a forestry road leading into the popular trail mountain in Chilliwack, B.C. has shut the mountain down for a month during prime recreation season.

Crews have shut down the Chilliwack, B.C. area mountain to conduct road maintenance

The popular trail spot has been closed for a month for road maintenance. (Kyle Pearce/Flickr)

There's nothing quite like the exhilarating feeling of cycling down a steep mountain path on a warm summer day, but many Chilliwack mountain bikers say they are forced to miss a month of "prime" season this year.

That is because Vedder Mountain — between Fraser Valley and Cultus Lake Provincial Park — is currently closed for road maintenance as of July 18.

Sam Waddington, Chilliwack city councillor and owner of Mt.Waddington's Outdoors, said the move is "not sitting well with recreationalists."

"It's a phenomenal spot and we're disappointed to see it close with no notice."

The ministry’s Chilliwack Natural Resource District is currently carrying out maintenance activities on the road until August 20, 2016. (Wildman/ClubTread Forum)

The Vedder Mountain forestry road is the main access to the mountain, maintained by the Ministry of Forests.

"Due to the potential hazardous nature of the activities — mechanical brushing and tree felling — [the road] is now closed to all traffic."

Authorities told CBC people were showing up despite signs warning of the road work. They were forced to close the mountain for everyone's safety.

Popular spot for tourists and locals

Waddington said he understood the Ministry's safety concerns, but thinks the total mountain closure is an overreaction.

He would like to see the project postponed, given how many people use the trail.

"If you see that many recreationalists popping out of the trail, the answer to me is not to close the whole mountain because it's unsafe to upgrade the road," said Waddington.

"Recreation needs to be valued," he said.

The dramatic landscape of Vedder Mountain (top right corner) rises over Chilliwack. The mountain has become a popular tourist draw in recent years. (Tim Gage/Flickr)

Chilliwack has been selling the city as a "recreationalist destination," he said.

Tourism Chilliwack and local mountain biking groups have spent thousands of hours and dollars to make Vedder Mountain such a draw, he said.

Ministry road fixes are for benefit of cyclists and hikers

Road closures hit local businesses hard when out-of-province clients cancel mountain biking tours and hotel rooms.

The ministry said the popularity of the area is one of the reason they are doing such intensive maintenance.

The hope is that road repairs — slated to end by Aug 20 — will last up to five years.

With files from The Early Edition.

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