Large sections of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) Rail Trails in BC are being threatened by motorized use including ATVs, dual sport bikes, motorcycles, automobiles and 4x4s.
The use of these Rail Trails by motorised vehicles is ruining the surface of the trails making it very difficult if not impossible to cycle, walk or use wheelchairs comfortably on them. The noise and pollution of gas-powered vehicles makes using these trails much less pleasant for other trail users and the speed of these vehicles pose a safety risk.
These rail trails, which include the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and the Columbia and Western Rail Trail form a significant portion of the Trans Canada Trail in BC, linking rural and urban residents with health and fitness benefits, active transportation opportunities and have great low-carbon tourism and recreational potential.
For the past 20 years, volunteers across BC have worked to obtain the Provincial and Federal dollars and public donations necessary to assemble the TCT in British Columbia as a recreational greenway for cyclists, walkers and equestrians across British Columbia. The rail corridors were reserved and funded with the expectation that they were for cycling, walking and equestrians. Adjacent landowners supported rails to trails on this condition because motorised uses are often incompatible or disruptive to farming and ranching.
Because rail trail gradients are ideal for cycling, they are also highly attractive to cycle tourists who want to travel long distances on a pathway without highway traffic. When the cycling tourism potential of these trails is developed, they will offer a superior trail product that would provide good family-wage jobs through trail related services and products and improve the livability of adjacent trail communities. The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association completed in 2015 a strategy plan supported by Destination BC describing how these rail trails could be developed into a tourism product.
We need to have money invested in natural resource management and transportation to solve the impasse with motorized recreation users. Communities along the rail trail corridor deserve to benefit from gains in health and fitness, active transportation, and cycle tourism initiatives, as has been done elsewhere in North America. One of the suggested ways to move ahead is to consider designating the TCT a linear park or greenway officially so that cultural, historical and natural resources are protected to the full extent possible, such as under the BC Heritage Act.
The status quo is not acceptable making it necessary that something must be done. People cycling are being routed off the rail trails due to their poor condition onto highways. These rail trails are often the only safe options for travelling between communities for those who can’t or don’t want to drive. The only other options are roads with high speed traffic that often don’t even have shoulders.
We recognize that in addition to recreation, ATVs and other gas powered vehicles are used as low cost transportation by some who can’t afford to drive or are unable to drive. With rural poverty being a challenge around BC, we will work with groups and individuals to help address these issues with solutions that do not involve the use of motorized vehicles on rail trails. While improving cycling and walking will help many, we realize that not everyone can or wants to cycle or walk longer distances. Possible measures to consider are:
Encourage the government to fund and build motorised trails that provide needed access without the use of rail trails
Allowing ATVs to use road shoulders
Allowing ATVs to use roads in a community
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Write BC's Leaders to Save the Trans Canada Trail
Tell them your experiences on trails damaged by ATVs and 4x4s. Let them know what great cycling and trails connecting communities would mean to your friends and family
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PO BOX 9041
STN PROV GOVT
Leader, Green Party of BC
Leader of the Opposition
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
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Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
Opposition Critic for Transportation and Infrastructure
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture
PO Box 9071
Stn Prov Govt
Minister of Health
Environment Spokesperson, Green Party of BC
Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
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