Vancouver North Shore Trails SHUT DOWN

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Vancouver North Shore Trails SHUT DOWN
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Posted: Oct 20, 2016 at 15:37 Quote
North Vancouver’s mountain bike community is in shock after landowner Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation closed dozens of Mount Seymour’s world-famous bike trails.

At least 25 no trespassing signs were placed throughout the CMHC-owned land late last week, closing at least 30 world-class trails that hikers and bikers use in the popular recreational area year-round.

Rachid Nayel, vice-president of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, said his members were floored by the move and caught totally off guard.

Nayel said he spoke with a CMHC official in the Vancouver regional office on Tuesday and was told the decision was made in Ottawa.

“We are asking for more information,” he said. “We weren’t aware of this and hopefully they are open to a dialogue with us.”

For the past 15 years, CMHC has had a completely hands-off policy on Mount Seymour, not reacting as clandestine trails were built on its land.

Nayel said his association has repeatedly tried to sit down with CMHC officials to discuss a plan for mountain biking on Seymour, but no one has ever returned their calls.

“We have tried to engage with them in the past,” he said, adding his members will respect the signage.

On Seymour, other landowners include Metro Vancouver, B.C. Parks and the District of North Vancouver. Many of the trails go from one land owner to another and with the CMHC closures it is estimated 75 per cent of the trails are now off limits.

Cove Bikes owner Chaz Romalis said there has been some high-quality trail building on the CMHC lands with unique log rides and wooden features.

Romalis, who opened the first mountain bike shop in Canada 36 years ago, said a lot of hard work has gone into maintaining the trails, many that are recognized as among the best in the world.

He said he is worried the trails will fall into disrepair. “That is the number one concern, that there will be no maintenance done on the trails,” he said.

Rick Loader, co-owner of Lynn Valley Bikes said the no trespassing signs have been the talk of the shop.

“Isn’t CMHC a government agency?” he asked.

“No one seems to know what is going on with this strip of land.”

Avid North Shore mountain biker Geoff Huenemann said the signs show people in Ottawa have little understanding of what is really going on at Seymour.

“That trail network is the result of decades of co-operation between very diverse stakeholders, and thousands of hours of selfless hard work. It’s a tremendously valuable community resource. Regardless of their concerns, which we can only speculate about because they acted unilaterally, I think there was a moral obligation to have started by seeing if there were other ways to address them before just shutting down the mountain.”

CMHC media relations officer Karine LeBlanc said there are no immediate plans for the 644 acres on the lower slopes of Seymour.

“CMHC is reviewing all options for future use of the site,” she said. The CMHC lands include areas near the Northlands Golf Course – commonly known as Cove Forest – Forest Mountain and the Blair Rifle Range.

District of North Vancouver parks manager Susan Rogers said they were not told by CMHC about the signs going up. “CMHC didn’t warn us that the signs were going up and we don’t know what their intentions are,” she said in a statement.

David Stuart, the district’s chief administrative officer said district officials met with CMHC in June and “outlined our concerns about trail making activity” on Seymour, but the signs came as a surprise.

Stuart doesn’t know if the no trespassing signs will be enforced. He hopes to meet with CMHC staff later this month.

“No question these signs have created a lot of confusion,” Stuart said.

CMHC was created in 1944 to provide low-cost housing and mortgages to veterans returning from the Second World War. The primary role today for CMHC is to provide mortgage insurance to homebuyers when their down payment is less than 20 per cent of the value of the mortgage.

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