Preserving forest land

For the most part, Penticton council likes the idea of preserving a parcel of land at the top of Riddle Road as a dedicated forest.

The mayor and council, with the exception of Helena Konanz, were in support of re-designating the land for parks and recreation at Monday's meeting.

"I am so pleased to move this," said Councilwoman Katie Robinson. "Any day you get to vote for trees is a good day in Penticton." 

Mayor Garry Litke said the property had been previously designated for residential use in the Northeast Sector Plan, in anticipation of major growth in Penticton.

But the cost to do so would be prohibitive in such rugged terrain, he added.

Its best known use now is as the popular mountain biking area, Three Blind Mice, and there has been work done already to improve the trails there.

Investigation by staff has further shown that the change would result in a qualification for the Avoided Forest Conversion Program, whereby local government could generate carbon credits for dedicated forest areas.

The initiative was brought forward by the city's Climate Action Advisory Committee, which unanimously supported the proposal.

"It is absolutely two uses that are compatible, for cycling and a dedicated forest," said Litke. "And there have been recent conversations with government officials on making it a cycling precinct."

Konanz suggested she may be voting against this down the road, because of concerns about what the future might hold.

"I am 100 percent behind biking and parkland," she said. "But we shouldn't tie up the future of Penticton. We might need this for building 20 years from now."

Mountain bikers hitting the trails on Tuesday were all for the proposal.

"We need  trails like this close to our community, everything else we've got is pretty much a 15 km drive straight up a mountain," said Ron Manning. "This one here is probably within about three minutes of town, so anyone can actually get here, bike on the KVR and hit these amazing trails."

The matter now goes to a public hearing on Dec. 15. With an election taking place between now and then, there could be a council of new faces making decisions on the matter. 

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