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Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to allow motorized vehicles on major trail

City of Port Alberni objects, saying vehicles won’t be permitted on its parts of Log Train Trail
A wooden bridge crosses a creek on the Log Train Trail between Burde Street and the arm connecting to the trail from behind West Coast General Hospital. (SUSIE QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Part of the Log Train Trail in the Alberni Valley will soon be open to motorized vehicles, but the City of Port Alberni wants to make sure their portion of the trail is for bikers and hikers only.

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) board voted last month to adopt a new management plan for the Log Train Trail, which will allow the use of motorized vehicles (including ATVs and dirt bikes) on the regional district-managed portion of the trail.

The full trail stretches 25 kilometres along the foot of the Beaufort Range. It was originally part of railroad logging operations until logging trucks became the preferred method of transport and the railway was abandoned. Since then, it has been developed into a multipurpose trail and regional park, mostly through the work of community volunteers.

The ACRD-managed portion of the trail is about 18 kilometres long, stretching from the three-kilometre marker in Cherry Creek to Woolsey Road in the Beaufort area (21-kilometre marker). The city-owned portion of the trail starts at the top of Burde Street and ends at Maebelle Road. The rest of the trail runs through private or crown lands.

The regional district’s general manager of community services Jenny Brunn explained during an ACRD board meeting in January that the ACRD undertook a “significant” amount of public engagement throughout the process of developing the new trail management plan, including interviews, public surveys, open houses and workshops. Staff heard a desire from the community to open up the trail and make it multi-modal.

“We have a significant amount of ATV traffic on the Log Train Trail,” Brunn said, adding that about 50 percent of the current traffic is made up of motorized vehicles, despite the fact that they are currently prohibited. “In the development of the plan, that was one of the biggest topics we ended up discussing.”

Brunn said staff also heard that the public wants a minimal amount of maintenance on the trail. Bridges and signage will fall to the regional district, while volunteers will address the rest of the upkeep on the trail.

But during a regular meeting of Port Alberni council on Monday, Feb. 12, councillors made it clear that the city-owned portion of the trail will not allow motorized vehicles. Council asked staff to review signage and barriers on the trail to ensure that it remains free of ATVs or dirt bikes.

Council also asked staff to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Mosaic Forest Management stating that the city does not support motorized vehicles on the Log Train Trail.

“I’m very concerned that those motorized vehicles will be migrating onto the city-owned portion of the Log Train Trail,” said Coun. Debbie Haggard. She added that she wants to ensure there are “barriers and proper signage” to make sure motorized vehicles aren’t able to access the city-owned portion of the trail.

Mayor Sharie Minions called the Log Train Trail one of the city’s greatest assets, and admitted she was disappointed to hear from the ACRD board that there will be very little maintenance on the trail.

“There’s a very low commitment coming from the regional areas to upkeep the Log Train Trail as an asset,” said Minions. “Which was disappointing to me, given how much use we see and how much value we hear from our residents about this trail.”

The new Log Train Trail management plan has not been fully implemented yet. According to the ACRD, staff will work on the creation of a transition plan and will engage user groups on the development of guidelines, signage and a communication strategy, as well as modifying access points and key trail sections as needed.

The ACRD will also need to negotiate a new agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

It is expected to be another 12 to 18 months before motorized vehicles are actually allowed on the trail.

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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