Video: Canadian MTB Communities in BC are Shifting From Resources to Recreation

Jul 2, 2018 at 22:15
by BC Bike Race  

The Canadian West Coast economy – and many around the world – has been about resource extraction and our ability to carve out a living from the raw wilderness. How in the modern world do we buoy our economy within the resource-based model while merging recreation with it?

This film project originally began as a cooperative arrangement between Destination BC and BC Bike Race (BCBR), it was shot and edited by Media One and BCBR. The original goal was aimed at delving into those communities along the route and telling their unique stories. The initial project was completed just prior to the race in 2017 with all seven parts launching individually.

The common thread between each vignette was strong; there was a current of change within all these communities. The words from the people interviewed really summed up a movement that became obvious when we put all the pieces together. In early 2018 it was agreed that the combined stories from each community told the compelling story of the impact mountain biking is having on tourism in British Columbia. Together, the individual community experiences reflect what is happening all over the province and in fact within the global mountain biking community.

bigquotesA lot of municipalities in BC are starting to realize that there is a resource under their feet and all it takes is someone like myself or another trail builder to turn it and put that dirt in the right shape and people will come from all around the world for the experience.Ted Tempany, Dream Wizards

At one time, as industry moved away from small towns all over the world, their populations migrated to bigger city centers. However, now, modernization with the internet and the increase of remote work available has opened up new options for people to move back to these once deserted towns. And for the last two decades, the young families who have begun this slow migration have been redefining our relationship with the working forest and local industries. They are striving for a closer connection to nature and for the opportunity to mine these natural resources in a more experiential way.

Without the Forest Service Roads (FSRs) we wouldn’t have any access to the best fishing spots, hiking trails, or alpine viewpoints – we also love toilet paper, and with this new generation came an updated appreciation of how we can work together to recreate in a working forest. And how we can jointly manage this mighty backyard with everyone’s interest in mind – including future generations and those who have lived here from time immemorial; the First Nations.


Together we are creating a world with shared purpose where industry and recreation sit side by side and trail building has become a vocation capable of feeding families and leading our sport into the future. Working in both resource and recreation can bring us closer to the land and the water, and that which nourishes us. The spirit of mountain biking can carry us far and wide – through forests, over mountains, and along streams – but only on the foundation of knowing where we came from and how we can continue to move forward.

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30 Comments

  • + 15
 I am SO for this, but let's not delude ourselves into thinking recreation can or will replace resource-based jobs. It can help, but needs to be part of a much stronger and broader plan for rural & small town development that has to include knowledge jobs. Free trails and cafes won't pay anyone's pensions.

I wish some of these town made a greater effort to reduce their car-centric planning. They'd be much more livable and desirable if they were walkable/rideable and better planned. Squamish is amazing for the rec, but the town is a hole. 2 strip malls on the side of the road :s

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad ppl are doing this work and showcasing the benefits. Biking is definitely better than logging or mining (esp the way its done in BC) but the jobs aren't there--yet. Kudos BCBR and Destination BC.
  • + 1
 Hopefully the provincial government starts to recognize the importance of maintaining and building more FSR's etc. We mountain bikers, hikers, hunters, pot growers have depended on mostly the logging and mining industries to build AND maintain these routes. Unfortunately a lot of FSR's that aren't under actual resource extraction use are starting to degrade badly. There could be an entire workforce created just for this. But free trails make that hard to pay for... There are soooo many out of work carpenters for instance in the Kootenays!
  • + 1
 @sdmgz I am just hoping Victoria (capitol of BC) stops dumping raw sewage in to puget sound some day!
  • + 10
 "we are creating a world with shared purpose where industry and recreation sit side by side". Together. Not us against them. But cooperation.

Some of you on SORCAs board should read this and understand the resource roots of the town and why it is true then and also true now.
  • + 4
 Ok I live in Squamish here a quick rundown

If you work in a tourism type job you barley make enough money to live off . Same as Whistler .

If you have a skilled trade and in our part of the world ,there is slot of building type jobs . Which the materials are mostly from the forest industry

You can have a job that actually pays you enough money to live and pay for a bike .

The truth is B.C. is a very expensive place to Iive and
Tourism is nice , but the jobs it creates don’t pay well
At all .it creates jobs but no one can afford to rent a place on that wage .

At least with a resource based job you have a chance of getting ahead.
  • + 4
 Balance is the key but we must also acknowledge that the resource industries act as a big brother to the smaller tourist industry. Imagine if mountain biking on crown land became the driver of the local economy to the point where all trail development was scrutinized to the level of the resource industries. The general, non-mountain biking public would have as much right to the land use planning decisions as any rider would. Along with this would come heavy liability for use, which would be followed by insurance requirements, which would be followed by user fees, which would be followed by legislated trail standards, which would be followed by enforcement, which would be followed by usage restrictions, and on and on and on.... We must be careful what we wish for.
  • + 2
 You make some interesting points, but tourism is a major part of the BC economy. Here are the numbers for 2016: "The tourism industry contributed $7.9 billion of value added to the BC economy, as measured through GDP. In 2016, tourism contributed more to GDP than any other primary resource industry (mining: $4.1 billion, forestry & logging: $2.0 billion, and agriculture & fish: $1.5 billion), with the exception of the oil & gas extraction industry ($8.2 billion)." Keep in mind that tourism has continued to grow significantly since 2016. Here is the source link: www.destinationbc.ca/getattachment/Research/Industry-Performance/Value-of-Tourism/Value-of-Tourism-in-British-Columbia-A-Snapsho-(2)/Value-of-Tourism-2016-Snapshot_FINAL.pdf.aspx2
  • + 3
 I have recently been to Kingdom trails in Vermont and they have a similar aproach, over 90 private land owners make the trails possible. The whole town is living off of the mtb trails. It's amazing.
  • + 3
 True enough, and great news. Let's remember also...the money flows to those trails (and that town) from the tourists - and they come from the city and work in banking, oil, tech, pharma...maybe some are plumbers and electricians too. It's all connected today. I think the video did a decent job of showing how industry and trails can work together. If this vid was put together a few years ago, it might have been pretty antagonistic towards logging, mining etc. Mountain bikers use all kinds of resources (from mining, oil and other sectors) to function - aluminum, Ti and carbon to make our frames, and oil/gas to power the ships from Taiwan. When we realize we 'are all one,' it'll be a good day. Props to this vid, think they did a good job of showing the connectivity.
  • + 2
 Forestry brings in a billion dollars as does mineral extraction. Tourism BC is still on its infancy stage. Yes we need the money. It looks like mountain biking will bring in the revenue during the summer months. We are off to a great start.
  • + 1
 Margaret River in Western Australia, one of the worlds best surfing locations, now makes more money from mountain bike riding than surfing. Also check out Derby in Tasmania, it has become a hotspot for mountain biking in Australia and has transformed the local economy.
  • + 2
 Yes and has for several years, people still spend more on winter season holidays but the summer traffic is not insignificant. There were 400 per day going up the LOTS trail one weekend last summer.
  • + 2
 One of the best Videos I have watched. Great stuff BC.
  • + 2
 Does Whistler really get more visitors in the summer than winter now?
  • + 2
 According to Tourism Whistler, yes. I don't know how they arrived at those numbers. And as mentioned, more visitors =/= more business. Otherwise hotels and other services wouldn't reduce hours or lay ppl off in the summer months.
  • + 4
 For sure, try going up there in the summer, it's a zoo. Kinda makes sense though. That highway can be rough to drive in the winter and almost nobody in Vancouver has proper winter tires. Makes a day or two escape from Vancouver to Whistler far easier in the summer. Also don't need skis, snowsuit, snowboots, etc. In the summer just gotta get there and there's tons of things to do without needing gear. Own a pair of shoes? You're all set for some really nice hiking trails. Mountain bikers are only a small portion of the visitors, I'd imagine.
  • + 2
 @gbeaks33: plus what's a lift pass in the winter now, 5443$?
  • + 1
 @spinko: haha yeah it's certainly not cheap. I prefer going to Whistler in the summer. If the park is busy, lots of other stuff to shred or do that is cheap or free. In the winter, if you're not skiing you are basically just spending money in the village.
  • + 1
 @sdmgz: "I don't know how they arrived at those numbers. And as mentioned, more visitors "

According to the 2015-6 Whistler EIS and Tourism Whistler methodology was counts from businesses, WB, and intercept surveys. Keep in mind that the "summer" counts was for 2 more months than the "winter" months.

Winter visitors still stay a bit longer and spend a bit more but the gap is ever closing between summer and winter visitor spend
  • + 2
 Was there yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. Times Square, NY styles! Very, very busy. Good for the local shops and hotels etc. Summer has way more activities - biking of course...canoeing, kayaking, climbing, gondola touring and hiking, then good old fashioned boozing on the patio. Summers are very busy there.
  • + 1
 @leelau: hmm, based on personal observation I still find this hard to believe. Outside of a sunny Saturday, long weekend or crankworkx i find the village super sleepy in summer. But at least they're developing summer activities rapidly (even if they cost an arm and a leg) you know, with climate change an all...
  • + 2
 @sdmgz: what I'm told is that the summer tourists spread out more. Living in Bayshores, White Gold and now Alpine I can definitely say I see my neighbours much more in spring, summer and fall more than I do in winter when everyone's bunkered. What can I say? I was a bit surprised the summer numbers were so high too but TW had no reason to cook the books.
  • + 1
 Its mostly day trippers in the summer .... If i recall, the Mayor of Whistler had something offside to say about the negative impact these people have on the resort community, because the bring their own lunch and don't stay in hotels... I wish I could find the article.
  • + 2
 @cmcrawfo: Yes you're right, I remember that! It's true though. People roll in for the day, clog up parking lots at trailheads, leave their garbage all over the place and treat nature like their own personal outhouse, and then leave down and don't contribute a thing for the local economy.
  • + 1
 @gbeaks33: With the irony being, that Alta Lake (aka Whistler) was essentially created for that exact purpose ( minus the garbage)
  • + 1
 Whistler's biggest day of the entire year is during the Crankworks event...
  • + 1
 @sdmgz: mid-week is still busy in the village in the summer I find. Occupancy rates tell the story as well. Creekside is still pretty dead unfortunately, at least the past couple weekends I've ridden down there. Hopefully there will be more uptake on the bike park expansion there and drive visitors to businesses there.
  • + 1
 Would someone please send this to the Welsh government
  • + 1
 Northwest Arkansas is the king of this concept
  • + 1
 Waltrails. The Walton Family Foundation has been huge for BV

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