Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and offers tremendous opportunities for tourism, according to Patrick Lucas, a consultant working for Simpcw First Nation.
Speaking to Clearwater town council during its April 5 meeting, Lucas said members of Simpcw strongly favor developing a network of trails from McBride to Barriere and Sun Peaks.
“The communities need to work together to promote mountain biking,” he said. “In Scotland, seven communities have developed a mountain biking industry that’s worth $60 million per year by working together.”
Such an approach would tie in with the McBride to Barriere economic development corridor the government is working on, plus with such proposals as the Wells Gray Geopark.
First step would be to write a market study and development plan.
People are looking for what he called “signature trails” about four to six hours long, with good views and high quality rides. They also want good bike shops and restaurants, he said.
Having a strong mountain biking culture helps keep local residents healthy plus brings in tourist dollars, he said.
It also can help attract professionals who value that kind of outdoor lifestyle. He gave as an example a dentist who recently moved to a community in northern B.C. because of the mountain bike trails there.
Building and maintaining trails costs money and requires experienced and trained trail crews.
Simpcw First Nation members want to develop such a trail crew to serve the entire North Thompson Valley and hope to include non-band members in it, he said.
“If you go to Chu Chua you’ll see mountain bikes everywhere. bThey want to develop mountain bike tourism throughout their territory,” Lucas said.