Finding a bypass trail so that off road vehicles can connect to the KVR on both sides of Princeton is proving to be a daunting task.
The committee charged with identifying a bypass – which was struck after the municipality passed a bylaw prohibiting ATVs and other vehicles on the KVR within town boundaries – met Wednesday for the first time in ten months.
Councillor Doug Pateman said the committee’s work was put on the back burner last summer during the Princeton wildfire.
Pateman, who represents the town on the committee along with Mayor Frank Armitage, said he’s been able to map a bypass trail that could cut from Princeton Summerland Road to the China Creek cattle guard.
However there the trail would enter RDOS boundaries and private property.
The landowner “doesn’t have a flavor for anyone riding though his property, which is disheartening,” Pateman told the group.
Armitage said the same property owner approached the Town of Princeton offering to sell the land.
The offer was 200 acres “or so” at a cost of $1,500 per acre, he said.
According to Pateman “the Town of Princeton isn’t in the business of being landlords outside our town boundaries…We did invite them to approach the RDOS.”
The 90-meeting often got off the track of a bypass trail while members of the committee revisited the issue of the motorized vehicle ban through town, despite the fact that the committee’s terms of reference rule out that option.
“People are suffering,” said Lee Mowry. “You really said you’d love this [ATV] business for the town. Why don’t we open up the two ends?”
Russ Peterson said it is time to renegotiate what’s available in town. The town will not budge. The town will not work with this committee,” he said, adding it could take several years to complete a bypass trail.
“Do it now or it goes to the next election.”
Armitage countered that the committee was formed to find a bypass trail, not to rehash the decision to ban ATVs on the trail through town.
“The townspeople were coming to us saying they weren’t happy [with motorized vehicles on the trail.] Therefore the bylaw was imposed.”
Area H Regional Director Bob Coyne said the committee members appeared in conflict. “You’ve got a group of people here but there’s really two different groups in the room.”
The bypass trail is not an RDOS concern, he added.
“Quite frankly it’s a town issue. It’s your bylaw.”
Pateman suggested the committee explore twinning part of the bypass with China Creek Road to avoid the private property barrier, and suggested the RDOS could assist.
Mark Woods, community services manager for the RDOS, said the district “is not in a position to just twin an asset of the province that we don’t own…It’s a lot of work to get the government to change something along those lines.”
Lyle Thomas, leisure services director for the Town of Princeton, said while the committee pursues its trail options it could also work towards attracting ATVers and their tourism dollars to the area by promoting the KVR as a destination.
He said it would be fairly easy to build and promote a staging area at the Princeton fairgrounds.
“That’s something we could work on right now.”
At the meeting’s end Pateman and Mowry agreed to meet and discuss the viability of twinning a bypass trail with China Creek Road, noting they would not be able to make any conclusions until spring when the area is visible.