New Brunswick

Mountain bikes blaze destructive trails through Fredericton's Odell Park

Fredericton Coun. Stephen Chase is raising concerns about mountain-bike enthusiasts who are cutting their own trails through Odell Park.

Coun. Stephen Chase says the new trails cut by mountain bikes and fat bikes cause erosion, damage trees

Snowshoers and skiers routinely make trails through the snow at Odell Park, but now some cyclists are cutting down trees to make biking trails, said Coun. Stephen Chase. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Fredericton Coun. Stephen Chase is raising concerns about cycling enthusiasts cutting trails through Odell Park.

He says bushes and trees are being cut back to create trails for mountain bikes and fat bikes, which could cause erosion once ruts form and start to accumulate water.

"So that's a serious problem," Chase said.

It's also "completely contrary to any of the bylaws that we have," he said.

Chase, whose Ward 9 includes the 800-acre park, suspects "only a few people" are creating the new trails, but it's happens year-round, even in winter.

"The thought of people going in there and doing work — quite often under the cover of darkness — is just totally wrong and we need to fix it," he said.

Fredericton Coun. Stephen Chase said the city plans to increase opportunities for mountain bike enthusiasts. (CBC)
The park is not designated for mountain biking, said Chase. Biking is allowed but only on designated trails.

Chase acknowledges policing the issue is difficult, but he urges the user community to get involved.

"Unauthorized work to facilitate a recreational pursuit like mountain biking should not be undertaken without conformity to a plan, support of the city, support of the community."

Chase, who is a mountain biker, said he believes the city needs to create more opportunities for mountain biking.

"And we're working on that," he said.

A "first-class mountain biking facility" is planned for Killarney Lake Park, said Chase. It's part of a master plan for Odell Park and Killarney Lake Park, expected to be launched later this year.

This isn't the first time Odell Park's trees have been the centre of controversy. In 2015-16, a proposed disc golf expansion prompted opposition and the creation of a citizens group, called Friends of Odell Park.

Members argued old growth trees in the park needed protection from unregulated activities.

The proposed nine-hole expansion was put on hold and the city sought consultants and public input to resolve the dispute.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton