The portion of the trail in purple is owned by the VBL, and the portion in green is Crown land. (McElhanney Ltd. photo/Lakes District News)

The portion of the trail in purple is owned by the VBL, and the portion in green is Crown land. (McElhanney Ltd. photo/Lakes District News)

Eveneshen trail will not become blue-difficulty bike trail

Existing trail conditions do not meet design criteria, says McElhanney Ltd

McElhanney Ltd., an engineering and land surveying firm, prepared a memo for Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council after being contracted to perform a feasibility study on the Eveneshen Trail in Burns Lake. The review was to determine whether or not the trail could be upgraded into an intermediate difficulty [blue] mountain biking trail, which would serve as a connection from Boer Mountain into town.

Along with the VBL, Ride Burns, a trail advocacy group and trail operator for the existing Boer Mountain trails, was also a stakeholder in this feasibility review.

According to McElhanney Ltd. Project Manager Tyler Wilkes, the trail did not meet the design criteria to upgrade it, mainly due to the steel slope of the upper portion of the trail, which has a steepness grade of over 25 per cent. For reference, the target grade of a blue level trail is 10 per cent, with a max of 15.

Despite the disappointing news, Wilkes did provide council with some alternative options to at the very least improve the hiking trail that already exists. Wilkes outlined several problem areas, which fell in to three categories; urgent, high priority and long term.

One urgent matter he outlined was the lookout platform, which after review was found to be settling and failing, creating a safety hazard for users. Wilkes recommended that this platform be immediately closed off from public access and taken down.

Other urgent maters included the bridge, which has rotten stingers that are undersized for the length of the crossing, and was categorized by Wilkes as ‘on its last legs’. It was recommended that the bridge be replaced with a new 13 meter long clear-span bridge.

All total, there were 14 recommendations to improve the existing trail, which would cost the VBL an estimated $170,700. This price was very well received by council, as some councillors expected the cost to be significantly higher. The cost of making the repairs was deemed worth it, in order to bring more tourism value to the area as hiking trail.

What makes things a little bit complicated, is that the trail is divided into land that has two separate owners. The bottom half of the trail belongs to the VBL, however, the top part of the trail that was deemed to dangerous to turn into a mountain biking trail is Crown property.

It is understood however that the VBL is responsible for maintenance and operations of the Crown land portion of the trail due to an agreement with the province since 2017.

Council discussed the potential for only doing work on the lower portion of the trail, but did not make any final decisions on the matter as of their latest meeting on Dec. 14. It was noted that more information was needed to be compiled before it’s brought back to council for decision.

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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