City report recommends moratorium on heli-biking tenures, call for collaborative land use plan

Report calls for moratorium on new heli-biking tenure until a provincial government led, community-based, collaborative land use planning process is created to address land use pressures on Mount Cartier

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File photo: A helicopter equipped with mountain bike racks ferries riders to the peak of Mt. Cartier. Photo by Matthew Timmins

request for tenure by local mountain bike guiding company Wandering Wheels for tenure on the Mt. Cartier Trail has sparked concerns there is a lack of understanding when it comes to the current land use and capacity of the popular trail.

A report from the City of Revelstoke staff that incorporated feedback from the economic development commission and the environmental advisory committee said there is a lack of awareness when it comes to knowing the exact number of heli-assisted mountain bikers and other recreational users accessing the Mt. Cartier Trail.

“While supporting the Wandering Wheels tenure application would provide a recreational service done in a controlled and monitored way, it is the opinion of the EAC and EDC that it is necessary to have a better understanding of the current land use and capacity of the Mt. Cartier trail prior to enshrining a right of access to a commercial operator by grant of tenure,” Nicole Fricot, director of economic development and Mike Thomas, director of engineering wrote in the report to council.

The report notes that currently the application by Wandering Wheels is one of four tenures or tenure applications in process to allow heli-assisted mountain biking on Mt. Cartier. According to the report, the others are by Shred Sisters, the BC Enduro Race Series and local heliskiing company Selkirk Tangiers. The report notes that other helicopter companies are advertising and providing mountain bike shuttles without tenure to the mountain already.

The report questions the economic sustainability of having four companies operating tenures on the Mt. Cartier trail. The report touches on other concerns, including a lack of washroom facilities in the area, inadequate parking, impact on other trail users, and impact on wildlife.

Revelstoke city council had referred the Wandering Wheels tenure amendment application to both the environmental advisory committee and the economic development commission during its March 27, 2018 regular council meeting. Based on a review of the application the two groups are making the following recommendations:

-That the SILGA motion “Resourcing Collaborative Planning on Provincial Crown Land” be supported by submitting a letter to Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development requesting that the ministry take a leadership role in supporting a community-based, collaborative land use planning process that will address escalating and competing recreational land use pressures on Mt. Cartier and surrounding area.

-A recommendation be made to the provincial government for a moratorium on any new tenure applications or approvals until completion of the proposed planning process.

-Key consideration points provided by the Economic Development Commission in their Wandering Wheels referral be included in the letter to the province.

Update: May 5

Tenure applicant says city report contains errors

Wandering Wheels owner Matt Yaki says he is frustrated by misinformation contained in a city report regarding his application for tenure on the Mt. Cartier Trail. Revelstoke-based Wandering Wheels currently operates guided mountain biking tours in Revelstoke and in the region.

“It seems the city thinks there are four different companies applying for tenure and that there needs to be a management plan. If there were four applications I’d totally agree, but the other three applicants have already been approved,” Yaki said in a phone interview with the Revelstoke Mountaineer.

The three other tenure holders referred to in the city report are Selkirk Tangiers, Shred Sisters, and the annual BC Enduro Race Series. Yaki said to his knowledge the latter two are currently not using their tenure on Mt. Cartier, and the enduro race is an annual event.

Yaki’s original tenure application included the Mt. Cartier Trail, but he was asked to remove the trail at the request of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s recreation officer at the time because the trails were “hiking trails.” Yaki said the trail itself was built in the 1920s as a horsepack trail. The growing popularity of mountain biking in the area means more bikers are now accessing the trail.

Other concerns cited in the city report include a lack of washrooms, lack of parking and impact on wildlife. Yaki said this is addressed in the management plan that is part of his tenure application and he spent this past winter working closely with staff at FrontCounter BC to make any required changes. One of those changes includes weather considerations: Wandering Wheels would not use the trails during or immediately after wet weather.

“We’ve been working together to come up with an agreeable management plan,” he said.

Yaki said the city’s response and comments are the only remaining stumbling block before the Ministry of Lands, Forests, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Developments is able to make a final decision on the Wandering Wheels tenure application.

Council will consider the recommendations at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The city’s role is to provide a response to the referral to provincial authorities, who will then make a determination on the application.

Clarification: A member of the Economic Development Commission contacted the Mountaineer to say the EDC hadn’t recommended a moratorium, but that the final city report that stemmed from the two committee recommendations did. The story has been updated to reflect the change.

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Melissa Jameson
Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com