Penticton, a cycling destination

A proposal to make Penticton a premier cycling destination was heard by council at a committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

Colleen Pennington, the city's economic development officer, outlined community interest in making the area a cycling mecca, as well as what's in it for local residents.

"When we talk about biking opportunities, we clearly have a lot of resources, whether it's terrain or races," she said. "What's clearly missing is the marketing piece."

She further discussed world renowned trails already in existence including the Waterfront Trail In Ontario,  La Route Verte in Quebec, the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton and existing South Okanagan bike businesses.

Among the latter are four biking community groups, 15 sporting events with biking components, six bike specific businesses, seven tour companies and two biking supplies companies.

The next steps to making this proposal a reality range from assisting bike friendly initiatives and developing terrain and destinations regionally and locally to promoting existing businesses, touring and routes.

Mountain biking is a key component and Laura Harp. president of the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, PACA, discussed two trail initiatives that PACA is requesting council support for.

The first is for Three Blind Mice, already a popular mountain biking area.

Trails were first established there in 1994, and in 2011, PACA approached the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations division of Recreational Sites and Trails BC, RSTBC, to request a full Section 57 on the approximately 3,500 acres of Crown land , adjacent to land owned by the city, where the majority of trails are located.

The request did not receive the necessary support to proceed.

In 2013, PACA signed a license to use 332 acres of city owned land at the Mice trail network.

A trail signage and system planning expert from the International Mountain Bike Association, IMBA, was then consulted for help in devising a plan for trails in the area.

The land manager for RSTBC then offered support for a partnership agreement between PACA and the Ministry for the aforementioned crown land.

Currently, RSTBC has submitted a Section 57 application to Front Counter BC, and a decision is expected by the end of April. If approved, the next step will be to have the area declared an official BC recreation site.

In regards to this matter, PACA requested a letter of support from the city.

The second initiative regards mountain biking at Campbell Mountain.

Although the area has seen its share of illegal dumping and erosion caused by irresponsible motorized vehicle traffic, efforts have been made in recent years to clean up the area and rehabilitate the trails, said Harp.

The request from PACA for this area is a non exclusive, non motorized license to use city owned land at Campbell Mountain for trail access, planning, building and maintenance.

The request for the letter was well received by council and is expected to be discussed at tonight, Monday's, council meeting. The license to use for Campbell Mountain was directed to staff for consideration.

Harp said she was pleased with the council's response to the PACA requests.

'I'm enthusiastic," she said. "They seem to recognize the value cycling brings to the community."



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