Burns Lake council has directed staff to investigate the possibility of building a multi-use trail connecting Burns Lake’s downtown area to the Kager Lake Recreation Site.
The proposed trail would start at the Eveneshen Nature Trail’s parking lot, join the multi-use Rod Reid Trail, and connect to the existing Magee Trail. The end of the trail would connect to the existing mountain biking trails near Kager Lake’s lower parking lot.
Although the original motion was to support a “mountain biking trail,” council decided to change the wording to “multi-use trail” after councillor Susan Schienbein raised some concerns.
“The [Eveneshen] trail is pretty skinny in some places,” said Schienbein. “I’m trying to envision myself walking along that trail with my dogs and having someone come down the trail on a mountain bike. There are a few places where there isn’t enough room for my dog and I to walk on the trail beside each other.”
“My concern is that we have very few walking/hiking trails right in our municipality,” she continued. “That’s a selling feature right now that we use for visitors when they come to the community. They can go to the Visitor Information Centre and we send them on a hike through the Eveneshen Nature Trail, and people love it because it’s right in the middle of town and they don’t have to go anywhere.”
“I think we just have to be really careful that we’re not trading it off because I don’t see, without huge expenses, that trail being able to accommodate two-way riders and hikers,” she added. “I don’t disagree with the project, but I don’t want to trade a hiking and walking route for another value.”
Councillor Michael Riis-Christianson agreed with Schienbein.
“It definitely has to be a multi-use trail, it can’t just be a single-use path because it’s a wonderful place to walk,” he said.
Mountain bikers currently access the Eveneshen Nature Trail. Although a small portion of the trail is under provincial jurisdiction, village staff is working to have the area turned over to the municipality.
“I think it would be a real addition and tourist attraction if people could bike in and out [of the Eveneshen Trail],” said Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach. “But there are some issues to be worked out.”
Village staff is now expected to produce a preliminary report to determine the feasibility of including the Eveneshen Nature Trail as part of the longer connector trail system to Kager Lake.
The report will gauge community support for the project, include legal issues that may impede the project and liability issues for the village. The report will also determine any expenses for the municipality, which could include determining the cost of a geotechnical survey should it be required.
The proposed connector trail is supported by the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (BLMBA) and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s Area B director.
The BLMBA is currently investigating the feasibility of constructing the section of trail between the Rod Reid Trail and Magee Trail. The group is expected to submit their findings to village staff.