The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is planning to make some improvements to the Maplehurst Park trail system and is looking for public feedback.
Maplehurst is a four-kilometre length of trail located in Cherry Creek that has mostly been built and maintained by volunteers over the last two decades. Just in the past two years, trail use in the park has increased “significantly,” said Michael McGregor, the ACRD’s lands and resources coordinator.
“It’s gotten around through word-of-mouth,” said McGregor. “It’s gotten so popular that some other issues have arisen. We don’t have the infrastructure for that kind of traffic.”
An “impromptu” parking lot at the trail head at the end of Willow Road has led to some congestion in the area. This has raised questions about the need for visitor parking, as well as the need for additional access points. The ACRD is also looking at installing trail maps or wayfinding signs in the park, along with trail improvements and ongoing maintenance.
The park is in a “funny location,” said McGregor. Although it is located within the Cherry Creek electoral area, it shares boundaries with Beaver Creek and Beaufort electoral areas. The park is also bordered by Crown land.
“We want to get some data to see who’s using the park and where are they coming from,” said McGregor. “Are they walking their dogs, are they biking or hiking? What do they want the ACRD to protect and enhance?”
McGregor says the ACRD has been making its parks more of a strategic priority in the last few years. In 2021, the ACRD adopted a parks asset management plan with funds from a COVID-19 Restart Grant, which included planned improvements and maintenance of regional district owned and operated parks.
The ACRD is seeking community input to identify a long-term vision for Maplehurst and priorities for park enhancements and protection of the natural environment. Anyone who is interested in providing input can visit www.letsconnectacrd.ca to fill out a short survey or attend a public open house at the Cherry Creek Community Hall on May 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
McGregor said the ACRD will be presenting initial results from the public survey at this open house, but it will also be an opportunity for members of the public to present new ideas.
The survey will be open until March 30.