The North Saskatchewan River Valley Plan is for Edmonton’s mountain biking community

As the city updates its management of the North Saskatchewan River valley and ravine system, local mountain bikers worry that changes to land use policies will limit their access to green spaces.

The Ribbon of Green strategic policy update is underway to guide planning for future attractions and recreational sites in the River Valley as Edmonton develops, particularly in the southwest and northeast. The city is asking Edmontonians for their input on how the land should be used.

The concept plan seeks to balance ecological preservation while ensuring that Edmontonians have access to different areas for recreational activities.

According to the Green Ribbon planthe river valley will be divided into three categories defining the ecological sensitivity of an area.

Preservation areas have limited access to protect vital areas, while active and working sites allow for different types of recreation and events. Conservation areas balance each other by providing limited recreation with ecological sensitivity.

Some local mountain bikers are concerned about the proposed plan, as most of the existing trail network fall within preservation areaswhich would allow hiking but not cycling.

“We have over 300 kilometers of connected trails,” Michael MacFynn, a mountain bike enthusiast at Revolution Cycle, told CTV News.

“One of the reasons we’re terrified is that if the green tape goes through and (the city) keeps it as it is, we’ll have 20 kilometres.”

While a potential change in land policy would have a serious impact on his business, MacFynn said his main concern is that trails will always be built no matter what the policy says, which will have even more of an impact on communities. environmentally sensitive areas.

“So not only will you have a bunch of people doing illegal trails, but you’ll have a bunch of people who start fighting as user groups,” he said.

The Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance, while not officially recognized by the city, partially maintains some single track trails that members use.

“They maintain the trail systems for free, and they do it in an environmentally friendly way,” said Darren Markland, who is also an emergency doctor at Royal Alexandra.

As a mountain biker, Markland said having access to the river valley gave him recreational space as he saved lives on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s what kept me alive for the past two years,” he said.

NO TRAIL CLOSURES

According to the city, cyclists ignore the initiative. By the time the policy is completed next year, the ribbon of green will identify how sensitive sections of the river valley are.

“We are not actively closing trails at this time,” said Lindsey Butterfield, Director of Urban Growth and Open Spaces.

Butterfield says the findings of the policy update will inform future planning for use of the river valley as a whole, including mountain bike trails, so the ecological resource can be preserved for future generations. .

“We recognize that we need to allow it more widely in the river valley, but we still want to make sure we protect special areas.”

The city accepts comments on the Green Ribbon Policy Review until February 14.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

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