Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay hotel tax dollars to be used to improve mountain biking trails

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission on Tuesday announced it would be contributing $250,000 over two years to the Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club for the $1.5 million Trowbridge Forest master plan project, though it is contingent upon support from other funding partners.
The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission funding, from its share of the municipal accommodation tax, will go toward a project that would improve mountain biking infrastructure in the Trowbridge Forest. (Brent Maranzan)

A Thunder Bay mountain biking club is receiving money collected from hotel stays in the city to move forward with upgrading trails.  

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission on Tuesday announced it would be contributing $250,000 over two years to the Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club for the $1.5 million Trowbridge Forest master plan project, though it is contingent upon support from other funding partners.

The economic development commission, which oversees Tourism Thunder Bay, is the designated entity to receive and distribute 50 per cent of the city's municipal accommodation tax.

The project includes expanding existing single track trails by up to 15 kilometres, as well as the addition of a bike skills park and upgraded park infrastructure in the Shuniah Mines area.

"It's going to open up some very unique terrain," Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club trail development chair Michael McKenzie said. 

"We're going to have some views of the [Sleeping Giant], and Pie Island. So we have tons of potential in building more in Trowbridge Forest, and then we're off to setting our sights to looking for other places around town," including an area on the south side, McKenzie said.

Other plans include building a new trailhead and parking area on Balsam Street.

Tourism manager Paul Pepe said Thunder Bay has already seen an increase in mountain biking tourism.The economic development commission cited statistics from a mountain biking website, showing 25,000 rider check-ins in 2020 with nearly half of those having travelled from outside of the city. 

"This will give us a world-class trail system to market as a tourism destination. The tourism potential cannot be overstated, as similar systems in other jurisdictions through Canada and the United States receive 20,000 plus visitors per year who spend money in local shops, restaurants and hotels," said Blacksheep vice president Mark Maranzan in a written statement.

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