A public open house held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Feb.15 unveiled the regional trails master plan to approximately 50 members of the public.
Cascade Environmental Resource Group, consultants for the regional trails plan, also presented their final report to the RDOS directors at their board meeting on Feb.16.
Cascade put together the master plan in a five month process that has included public open houses in Penticton, Oliver and Princeton. The plan’s direction focussed on compiling a list of priorities and actions for a linear trail over a 10 year period. Considered to be a “living document,” the RDOS also considered due diligence with respect to environmental and risk management, two aspects which are overiding throughout the report.
In speaking to the board, Dave Williamson, on behalf of Cascade Environmental, said that the document’s mission statement was to “serve the diversity of trail users.”
“Conflict management is a big issue,” he said, noting that a conflict management framework had been incorporated into the document in order to identify conflicts, engage affected parties, manage the issues and patrol and enforce them.
Part of the information gathering involved a user survey that was made available on the regional district’s “Click, hike and bike” website from Oct. 21 – Dec.16. Four hundred, fifty-eight submissions were received, 294 of which were provided by residents of the Okanagan – Similkameen. One hundred sixty-four came from beyond RDOS boundaries.
Information gleaned from the survey broke down as follows:
– 212 respondents (72 per cent) are non-motorized trail users.
– 194 hike
– 193 bike
– 152 walk
– 53 commute
– 32 ride a horse
Of the 28 per cent who use trails for motorized purposes,
– 42 use ATV’s
– 31 motorbike
– 16 snowmobile
– 15 use a car or truck
Sixty-two per cent of respondents said they were happy with the number of trails in the region, while 57 per cent were satisfied with the condition of the area’s trails.
Williamson’s conclusions noted that the regional district had a diverse trail network with great potential.
He said that the “Click, hike and bike” was well positioned to be the portal on line to be the “go to site” for regional trail info.
“It needs to be rebranded,” he commented, “ in order to bring motorized trail users to the site.” Williamson also pointed out that the region’s trail inventory was incomplete. Trail marketing and trail maintenance and funding partnerships were also seen as keys to future trail development and use.
Discussion by the board over the presentation included statements from Area “D” Director Tom Siddon, who noted that there was roughly an 80 – 20 split between non-motorized and motorized users, questioning how to divide or share trails between the two groups.
Siddon also commented that master plan policy should also include a means to deal with land title issues, including the location of the trail through or around contested areas. He commented further that he found the recommendations to be “pretty vague.”
“We didn’t want to presume anything prior to meeting with the working group,” Williamson explained.
Area “C” Director Allan Patton commented that access to the trail system was an issue, with proper parking limited or non-existent in many instances.