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Blue River residents offer suggestions on TNRD trails plan

The Blue River Master Trails Plan project draft plan will be available in June.

A virtual workshop was held on Thursday, May 27, by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District as part of the on-going process to establish a master plan for the trails network in Blue River.

Just over a dozen members of the public tuned into the workshop to provide their feedback and suggestions on how the team should move forward with the draft plan, and what they might be missing.

The workshop is just the second step in a process that is set to take the next few months to establish the master plan, which will assist in the development, as well as continued management of trails throughout the community of Blue River, for users of all kinds, including hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers and off-road vehicles.

The TNRD website also notes the improved trail network also will help explore the potential economic benefits through year-round tourism.

The project will include trail signage, as well as trial classifications and difficulty ratings, a map and plan for future trails, and promotion material for tourists and visitors among other objectives.

Megan Turnock, principal with LEES+Associates, asked those who took part in the workshop three things: What do you love about the trails now? Where is there room for improvement? What is your overall vision for trails/plan?

Some priorities suggested by the public included motorized access to trails from town, a warming hut for snowshoeing and a variety of accesses for the Luge Hill, such as multi-use climbing trail in winter, re-establishing the views, adding mountain bike trials and tobogganing.

Concerns brought up during the meeting included trail names and locations, on-going maintenance costs, how establishing and maintaining trails would affect surrounding wildlife and protecting the Green Mile section from logging.

It was suggested that a member (or members) of the public join the project team on their site visit in the coming weeks, as they felt local representation was important. The team, however, would only be doing a “ride about” and with all the information they had gathered throughout the workshop, it would be “more efficient” for the team to go it alone as they have a limited amount of time, said Turnock.

She added Sherri Madden, services coordinator for the TNRD, would be with them and due to COVID protocols, it wouldn’t be practical.

The public said they were disheartened and that COVID protocols could be established and followed.

Turnock stressed that it’s a “high-level plan” and that there wouldn’t be detailed design on the trails, just a scope of what the possibilities are. She added a second open house will be held in July.

When it came to the overall vision of the trail network, members of the public wanted to see Blue River take advantage of the trails potential and capture ORV riders who maybe can’t ride in Valemount or surrounding communities, noting the possibility for Blue River to become a welcomed place for ORV and dirt bike use.

The group also, however, noted that trails had their specific uses, such as Green Mile for snowshoeing, or 30 Seconds of Fun for an expansion of walking and single-track trails.

A draft of the Trails Master Plan is set to be released in June. Those who wish to comment on the trails network in Blue River can do so via an online survey which is available until June 7. Information about the Blue River Trails Master Plan project can be viewed on the TNRD website.