With the surfacing project on the Kettle Valley Railway trail between Okanagan Falls and Kaleden now complete, we expect it won’t be too long before the debate over motorized usership begins anew in that part of the regional district.
The new surface consists of packed granular asphalt and in its pristine state, it presents a great walking, biking or running surface – smooth, relatively solid, yet forgiving underfoot.
However, the surface – completed only a week or so ago – is already showing signs of strain from users in the form of motorcycles and horses.
In a couple of places along the trail, one can see evidence of motorized use in the form of loose stones, dislodged by the acceleration of a single wheeled vehicle. In another place, one can see indentations along the edge of the trail surface where horse hooves have made indentations in the surface.
The user debate has been ongoing in places like Naramata and Summerland for some time, generally coming to a head when motorized and less mobile users like joggers and walkers fail to come to compatible terms with each other.
No one wants to deny legitimate use to any user group – after all, we all pay taxes.
But how to reconcile the various users and their wear and tear on the trail surface with limited tax dollars available for repairs and maintenance?
It may be that the various user groups will need to police themselves or run the risk of losing the privilege of using public trails.
Under normal use, motorized vehicles should cause a minimal amount of damage on flat, well prepared trail surfaces on the valley floor. However, wheelies, jack rabbit starts, hard braking and other high performance “tricks” have no place on public trails, and it should be up to the various user groups to police their own – or lose the privilege.