Ben Wallace
Trail News

BC Warns: Illegal Building Could Bring Jail time, 10K Fine

Words Cam McRae
Date Jan 4, 2019

If the media doesn't grab on, it didn't actually happen.  

The Province of B.C. issued an ominous press release on May 24th of this year. The line that caused many seasoned builders to put down their beers was this one; "Failure to comply with legislation related to trail construction could result in a penalty of up to $10,000, a remediation order to return the area to its original condition, and/or a jail term of up to six months." Tina Kraal, the woman who was vandalizing trails in an effort to intimidate riders* didn't spend a single night behind bars, but those doing something productive in the woods, without permits, could go down for half a year? Whatever your opinion on illegal trails, this seems excessive. The trails themselves aren't a crime but building them could land you in the slammer. 

*This point was not proven in court, but I personally saw enough evidence to believe this was the goal.

While this landed like a newsflash to many, an identical press release that went out in 2016 failed to generate concern. North Shore rider turned CBC journalist, Ash Kelly picked up the story this year however and that lead to traction in other mainstream outlets, which never seems to bode well for mountain bikers. The takeaway is that this doesn't seem to represent a dramatic change, despite being in reaction to a perceived increase in unsanctioned building. 

My conversation with John Hawkings, Director of Forest Sites and Trails for the Province of B.C., confirmed this: "the rules around authorized trail building have been in place since the introduction of the Forest and Range Practices Act and before that the Forest practices code. So we're really talking about the mid 90s."

*Originally published Jun 12, 2018


Todd "Digger" Fiander, one of the most well-known and accomplished trail builders in mountain biking, started off as a rogue builder. Later he was a co-founder of the NSMBA, and then was forced underground for a number of years. These days he's gone completely legit and he's finally getting paid for his services.  Photo - Dave Smith

Unauthorized trail construction can result in:*

  • soil erosion or soil compaction
  • negative effects on water quality or water flow
  • slope stability concerns
  • negative impacts for other resource users
  • safety and liability concerns, due to improperly built or maintained trails and structures
  • the spread of invasive plants
  • disruption of wildlife habitat or sensitive plant ecosystems

*From the FLNRO Press Release

It might appear to some that 'illegal trails' are always a bad idea. Certainly we can't have outlaw builders creating networks of haphazard and unplanned lines throughout the wilderness with no regard for the concerns the Ministry has outlined? Particularly when there is a process to approve trails. And yet, if you have ridden in Squamish (as one example) these concerns may seem detached from reality. This is particularly true for riders in areas where the number of logging permits issued vastly outnumbers trail permits. The average timber cutblock in B.C. is over 20 hectares (49 acres) while the maximum size in the coastal region is 40 hectares. It's hard to imagine even the longest most poorly aligned and constructed trail approaching the sort of impact a few hundred yards of logging road, to say nothing of the harvesting process.

*Having spent years working for the Ministry of Forests and recreating in the forests of B.C. I can tell you firsthand that road building, machine and hand harvesting and timber removal, even when performed in accordance with regulations, is a highly destructive process. It is approved and monitored by government, but it rarely seems much effort is made to mitigate the damage caused by timber harvesting. 

Others will point out that illegal and unsanctioned were once seen as distinct from each other. By the ministry definition, virtually all the mature trails on the North Shore were illegally built, including Ladies Only, Pipeline, Ned's, Seventh Secret, TNT and many others. Without unsanctioned building there would have been no mountain bike trails on the North Shore at all. The same goes for Squamish, Pemberton and Whistler. Virtually all the mature trails pre-date any formal permitting process that anyone was aware of. This resource was built on the backs of volunteers who the Ministry of FLNRO is now calling criminals. 

Why Build Illegal Trails?

Unsanctioned building is so common on the North Shore that our local advocacy organization, the NSMBA* acknowledges this in their literature. From NSMBA 101: "The NSMBA recognizes that many builders work independently from the NSMBA, and often unsanctioned trails are built out of frustration with the system or from a perceived need for more advanced or varied trail experiences."

*Despite our similar names, and's history of involvement with trail building, we have no official affiliation with the NSMBA

Before the Forest Practices Code was introduced in 2002, there was no permitting process to allow a member of the general public to build trails on Crown Land. Any trail built before that date was unsanctioned and today the building would be considered illegal by the ministry. And any builder who began before that date, which is most of the builders around the North Shore, grew accostomed to building without any oversight. Things have changed of course and land managers have become educated and motivated to take advantage of the free labour that passionate builders provide, and yet many builders prefer to work unfettered by permits or restrictions. To find out why I spoke to a few builders who agreed to contribute to this article anonymously.

One of the builders, who works with his son  (let's call him Loic) said it so eloquently I'm going to give you his entire answer:

"Since I was little, I would wander the woods looking for magical things.  When I would find an awesome swimming hole, cave, or anything else, I would take my friends. Over time trails would form, and the “awesome” was shared.

I do not feel there is a great evil in building trails. I live in a coastal rainforest, and a coastal rainforest is incredibly resilient. Leave an old road, or trail for a period of time, and the forest will simply take it over.

The BC forest is also treated as a crop. Every 30 to 40 years it is cut down for lumber. I am not against logging, but recognize it is part of the fabric of BC. I do have issues with FNLRO making it seem that trails are a bad thing. Why, is it bad to wander in nature?  What negative impact does a path truly have on a forest?

Personally, I feel FNLRO has a bias against mountain biking.  I feel this way, because “routes” to fishing holes, climbing areas, alpine areas, are all deemed acceptable.  Yet, once you mention MTBs, FNLRO deems it unacceptable. I have never understood why, mtb trails are unacceptable, when they are built to a standard way higher than other trails.  

I also make sure that all my trails start as “routes” under the section 57 description* which does not need permission (i.e. no soil removal, no trees cut, no bridges).

*This wording does not appear to be included in the current document  -Ed.

I tried once to apply for a section 57.  I waited two years, and then was told that since I was not a company, or trail building association, that my trail was denied. After that, I realized that getting endorsement was a political friend thing, and not based on merit, or past building experience.

As far as my son, I think it teaches him to give back to the community and the value of having a symbiotic relationship with a sport you live.  One life lesson, I keep trying to instill in him is to give freely to the things you love, and don’t expect payment."

Another, who we'll call Greg, was more succinct:

"Too much of a process to get gnarly trails built and they would never get approved even though they can be sustainable. Land Managers and Trail organizations all want golden trails with low grade steepness."

The third, who will go by the name Aaron, also kept his thoughts brief:

I see lines I want and "legal" bodies do not make them so I do. Also, those organizations cannot make the trails I like because they are not sustainable. A soft loamy trail is only good if a small number of riders roll it. Once it gets discovered by the masses it gets blown out; at that point I believe in closing it down and letting the forest reclaim it.

Danger Dan

Dangerous Dan Cowan (riding) was a talented and innovative trail builder, but his trails weren't welcome anywhere. He finally left the North Shore for Bowen Island where the trails he built were tolerated for a time. I've heard they have since been decommissioned. Photo - Cam McRae

Are Illegal Trails Necessary?

The builders have personal reasons for opting out (although some builders work within the system at times and outside it at others) but there are other concerns pointed to by some users. Climbing up Mt. Fromme, Whistler's Westside or Fifty Shades of Green in Squamish, you are as likely to hear an unfamiliar accent as a native one. Some of these riders would have been among the 5.7 million overnight visitors B.C. hosted in 2017, but in my experience they are just as likely to be transplants; keen mountain bikers who chose to move to the Sea to Sky region because of the outdoor recreation opportunities. That adds up to increased trail traffic from locals and from visitors. Riders and trail advocates have accused the Province of spending millions promoting B.C.'s outdoor resources without permitting enough new trails or adequately funding this resource. Many think more trails are needed to meet this demand. 

John Hawkings pushed back when I asked if money was going into promotion* at the expense of trail development: "We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on construction of trails in the Province. You know, recently I believe the rural dividends fund has provided about 9.6 million dollars over the last few years to trail projects. That's all trails, not just bike trails." Mr. Hawkings conceded that more funding is needed but, pointed to Leave of Absence in Squamish and Lord of the Squirrels in Whistler, noting that trails were being approved at the rate of 2 to 3 per year in the corridor.

*Destination B.C., the gov't agency that promotes B.C. as a tourist destination, had a 50 million CAD budget in 2016 and that will likely increase by almost 1 million CAD per year over the next six years. This is larger than the combined budgets of B.C. Parks and B.C. Rec. Sites and Trails.

Here on the North Shore, official building in recent years has addressed the lack of trails for novice and intermediate riders. Not long ago, virtually every trail on the Shore would have earned a black diamond rating in most other places. These new and re-imagined trails have allowed kids, beginners and visitors to experience the North Shore without necessarily experiencing Lions Gate Hospital. This effort, while overdue, has left a gaping maw for the large contingent of veterans with expert level skills. Cooper Quinn, the President of the NSMBA is aware of this; "Now that we've improved options at the low end, we need to work on the other end of the spectrum - black and double black diamond trails. These riders are often finding the experience they’re looking for on unsanctioned trails which may not have the carrying capacity for additional riders - especially as they are often very sensitive to precipitation."

There Will Be no Forgiveness

John Hawkings made it clear that even expertly built trails that meet a need without contravening any of the concerns the Ministry has laid out could be on the chopping block. Based on the information I have been given, there will be no grace period, no effort to integrate any of these trails; they will not be approved, regardless of merit, the hours of labour or the popularity of the line. That doesn't mean resources are going to be dedicated to rooting out and decommissioning un-permitted trails,* but sanctioning is unlikely at best. This doesn't seem like the best way to honour the labour of those who built the world class resource that has contributed to making B.C. the most desirable tourist destination for many of the world's mountain bikers . 

*I have been told that in both Squamish and elsewhere in B.C. tools have been seized and fines have been levied against trail builders

The Big Stick

Despite the heavy-handed press release, Hawkings admitted that no builders have been jailed and that fines assessed are generally not more than $200. So why did the ministry decide to take a Trumpian approach using threats and intimidation? Mr. Hawkings told me that while the message was sent by the Ministry of FLNRO, other players had a stake in the conversation; "There's also the compliance and enforcement branch. There was Parks, a number of agencies involved and in recognizing that, we needed to remind people that there actually is a legal requirement for authorization."

The timing of the press release was no coincidence. An increase in unauthorized building has been noted in some unspecified location in the Sea to Sky region. It's likely Squamish was the hotspot since much of the land on the North Shore is administered by entities other than the Province and much of Whistler is under Municipal control as well. 

Cooper Quinn reminded me that it's not just the long arm of the government who has a stake in how and where trails are built. "It’s important to consider that many of the trails across North America have been there a lot longer than mountain bikes. It’s not uncommon for trails to be ‘built’ along traditional Indigenous routes, and almost assuredly on a traditional territory. Here on the North Shore, it’s the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Squamish Nations. Respecting that, and following the processes in place for consultation, should be important to everyone."

While I have some doubt that traditional peoples would disapprove of the way most trail builders, rogue or permitted, care for the land, it is important to realize that our trails can impact other users and stakeholders. Tunnel vision and selfishness is not the way forward for mountain bikers, but we're also unlikely to jettison our rogue ways any time soon. While more builders are coming into the fold, and some land managers are becoming more willing to approve trails that deliver more diverse experiences, it's unlikely we'll see the end of rogue building and riding in our lifetimes. And while I acknowledge the need for order and regulation, I have to admit that some of my best trail experiences have come on trails that were built under the radar. The Monster in Kaslo B.C., (built by Sam Brown - may he rest in peace) Ladies Only, Grannies and the now mostly unrideable GMG, The Flying Circus, and Bitches Brew on Mt. Fromme and Reaper, Coiler and virtually every trail on Cypress in West Vancouver; none of these were built with permits and none would have been sanctioned because mountain biking wasn't recognized as a legitimate activity when the builders toiled for hundreds of hours to create these masterpieces.

Ben Wallace

Some trail experiences aren't suitable for government oversight. Rider - Ben Wallace. Photo - Cam McRae

I'm not advocating for illegal building or riding. In many areas the access mountain bikers are granted hangs by a thread and jeopardizing that is not worth the payoff. At the same time threats of jail time and the promise of uncompromising unilateral decommissioning of even well-built trails seems like a terrible strategy to encourage collaboration and compliance.

What Trail Building Means...

As I mentioned earlier, for the trail builder we'll call Loic, trail building has been a family affair; "I have been building mtb trails in BC for 10 years. When my son was born, I promised myself I would build a trail a year. For each year of his life. My son has built every trail with me to date. And it has been a blast. I have great memories of him hanging out in a muddy buddy with small tools working on pieces of trails." 'Loic' only cuts down dangerous snags and drainage is always considered. He builds trails to the highest standard and he did make an effort to go legit, only to be rebuffed by authorities. 

He feels that local trail associations should be given some autonomy rather than being policed by bureaucrats, and Cooper Quinn has similar thoughts. "Most trail builders didn’t get into it for paperwork and meetings with government - this is where your local trail association excels, actually. They exist to help you, the builder, build and maintain trails, deal with risk management and liability, and generally get you into the woods working on your trails as much as possible." But that only works if these associations have some say in who gets the permits. 

Blame the OGs

I'm going to hand off the closing words to Cooper Quinn.

"For the (often under-resourced) land managers, it’s worth considering your permitting and sanctioning process. Some have it pretty dialed, some less so. What the NSMBA has seen is that the best way to reduce unsanctioned/rogue building and riding is to work with the community to provide more, varied, better sanctioned trails. Give people great sanctioned trails, and you’ll start changing attitudes to, “why bother with all this other illegal stuff?” The reverse is also true; decommissioning trails often leads to additional rogue building in the same area, with unfortunate additional impacts on the environment."

"People have figured out that mountain biking is fun, and the OGs are to ‘blame’ - you made it that way! That doesn’t have to mean it's not still rad - I’d argue it's better than ever. But it's time to stop thinking we’re out on the fringes, and think about the whole community; how to educate riders and builders, foster the culture we all love, and build some kickass trails that’ll last forever to ride."

Thanks Cooper. 

Tonight I'm charging my glass and raising it high to all the stubborn, quirky, big hearted, crusty, and calloused rogue builders; you are a bunch of beauties and without you this magnificent sport would not exist in its current form. 

Trending on NSMB


+3 Cam McRae IslandLife Pete Roggeman
mike  - June 12, 2018, 8:28 a.m.

This has been a topic with my fellow builders out here in the Fraser valley for several weeks now .They have tried to section 57 most of the hills and trails but where not successful within the last 2yrs . I did hear that there has been some talk with the people who permit trails. And it was mentioned as of late there have been more trails authorized for build than ever before. What areas they are in I have no idea. But to hear that is a positive direction. On the other side of things I did notice that the Province is now offering funding for motorized off roading projects . One would think maybe mountain bikers can get similar funding .


Cooper Quinn  - June 12, 2018, 9:29 a.m.

The province does offer mtb funding, and its very likely RSTBC gives FVMBA some. I wouldn't expect it to be much. 

Theres more available for established S 56 trails than 57 authorizations. 

And FWIW, RSTBC is understaffed, which can be why applications take a long time. 

This is the politics, and where your voice matters, call your provincial rep and tell them rec needs more funding. As noted, tourism gets plenty.


+3 Mammal AJ Barlas Todd Hellinga
Andy Eunson  - June 12, 2018, 9:10 a.m.

Are so called rogue trails (other than ones constructed in a provincial park or something equally egregious) really a problem? Is the heavy hand of government simply a “come on strong, but actually act mild” type of thing? I can show you quite a number of off the maps trails in my home town but most get ridden very very little. The majority of riders are not interested in seeking out these secret trails that are constructed by and for the hard core. 

There are certainly some lines created that should not have been because they exit on private property for example. Or in parks and private property. Doing that is asking for trouble. But way out in the boonies, don’t ask don’t tell seems to be the way. At some point I suppose that catches up as heat maps and word of mouth makes trails known and popular. 

There seems to be a desire in this province and country to move away from a resource based economy to something else. Tourism is one of those other ways. Mountain bike tourists spend money like any other tourist and deserves as much support as any other attraction. 

My knee jerk reaction when I hear my government come out all heavy handed is like most people’s. FOAD. Leave us alone we don’t need non mountain bikers telling us how to have fun. I wonder what has caused this issue to come up.

+1 AJ Barlas
Cam McRae  - June 12, 2018, 9:21 a.m.

I went over a little of that in the article Andy but Mr. Hawkings wouldn't be specific.


mike  - June 12, 2018, 9:34 a.m.

Recently in Mission there was a complaint filed in regards to a new section of trail built on Heritage Mtn. Someone wrote a very nasty letter to the ministry and they looked into it. This happened several weeks before any of this $10K fine stuff started to appear. My guess is there is new people in positions and they are flexing their biceps trying to impress.


+4 Cam McRae Andrew Major Todd Hellinga Pete Roggeman
Cooper Quinn  - June 12, 2018, 9:35 a.m.

Some references: 

My full thoughts to Cam's questions (he had to cut a lot out. To paraphrase The Dude, I'm not one for the whole "brevity" thing: (let me know if that link doesn't work.)

Steve's excellent thoughts:

It’s time to move to an integrated funding model for outdoor recreation in British Columbia


+1 Curveball
JVP  - June 13, 2018, 9:53 a.m.

"It’s time to move to an integrated funding model for outdoor recreation in British Columbia"

Yes! Paid staff needs to be the ones doing the paperwork - frankly that's the only way it'll scale past 1 or 2 volunteers building legit trails. Don't underestimate how demotivating it is to slog through applications for volunteers. It's just not realistic beyond a few exceptionally talented and motivated folks. Find a way to go get trail funding so you can do this for them. 

Staff should also manage each volunteer on the ground and be the ones to interface with government. Relationships matter, and these government interactions get better with trust and history. It's weird how huge trail opportunities happen - they often start organically and come from conversations with land managers in a hallway after a meeting.  

Where to start? A donor-supplied action fund of a few thousand dollars a year will pay massive dividends. Call it lobbying if you wish. Partner with hiking groups on funding requests at the province level. Not sure how the laws work up there, but you need your person in the mix year after year. The trail dollars will follow. From these comments it sounds like the money from the province is there, it's just not going where it's needed. 

A key to this is that you don't just ask for your own money, you ask for additional funding for your land managers to manage you. It's a beautiful thing when they know you're going to bat for them.


Cooper Quinn  - June 13, 2018, 3:10 p.m.

Preaching to the choir, really. 



clarkee  - June 12, 2018, 9:49 a.m.

this is an issue elsewhere in the outdoor recreation community,  the hiking and climbing community are struggling to get support to develop / renew trails and route in the Sea to Sky corridor despite years of attempted advocacy, sometimes it is like the government want to keep people out of the land and contained in parks or cities.

+3 Andy Eunson Mammal meloroast
Cam McRae  - June 12, 2018, 10:39 a.m.

They want us out there, in fact they pay $50 M a year to get us out there. 

Sort of like a hotel that creates shiny ads to show how great the rooms are but then can't find the cash to change the sheets.


Cr4w  - June 12, 2018, 10:41 a.m.

Seems like entrenched old thinking. The same type of thinking that can't accept anything LGBTQ, pot legalization or renewable energy. Southern BC is arguably the best place to ride a mountain bike in the world and yet it's a constant uphill battle to build more trails to accommodate increasing demand and in many cases trailbuilders don't want money they just want permission. 

They say they want a legitimate trailbuilding process to curb rogue building  but then they make the approval onerous, lengthy and unlikely to succeed. It's almost like they don't like mountain bikers.


+3 Andrew Major Niels Cr4w
Cooper Quinn  - June 12, 2018, 11:58 a.m.

Except.... Generally speaking, the process to permit and approve a trail in BC, on Crown land, really isn't that hard. Especially compared to the rest of the world. Example: wanna build a trail near the coast in California? That's gonna require a full EIS, which can be 100-200 pages. Which are expensive, and time consuming. 

One of the biggest hurdles here (again, on Crown land) is the understaffed divisions of FLNRO tasked with this, so it can take a while. Its not that the process is particularly difficult or onerous. 

The 'entrenched old thinking' is "imma go build whatever I want, wherever I want, for me and a couple of friends".


Henry Chinaski  - June 12, 2018, 12:21 p.m.

The below doesn't make it sound easy if you're not a business or trail organization.  Do you consider the process uniformly fair for anyone who applies for a permit?

> I tried once to apply for a section 57. I waited two years, and then was told that since I was not a company, or trail building association, that my trail was denied. After that, I realized that getting endorsement was a political friend thing, and not based on merit, or past building experience.


Cooper Quinn  - June 12, 2018, 12:47 p.m.

Not knowing the specifics of the application in question, I can't comment. 

What I can say is that, as I alluded to above, is this seems to be a reason to be involved with your local organization. They may have knowledge of where trail application are more likely to succeed, help with what will make a successful application, and can advocate on behalf of your proposal. Its not incredibly complicated (here, in BC, on Crown land), but its also not without a bit of confusion until you get all the language and whatnot figured out. 

And also, again, it can come back to the limited resources available to land managers. Often times, they prefer to deal with one organization (ie your local trail org), than a bunch of individual builders. Its certainly easier for them to have one point of contact (whether or not that's a valid reason is up for debate).


+2 Todd Hellinga Curveball
Cooper Quinn  - June 12, 2018, 12:36 p.m.

Something else that's come up in side conversations here, and Cam mentioned.... the proverbial elephant in the forest: forestry. Its something of a false equivalence to compare trails and forestsry. Sort of. 

There's a lot of "but forestry cuts out huge blocks, logging roads, etc, etc etc." 

Yep, they sure do, and I don't think anyone is going to try and deny that impact. But why they get to do so is important. 

They go through MASSIVE hurdles compared to any trail application to do so. Environmental assessments, geotechnical and quaternary mapping, road engineering, archaeological assessment, following the Water Act, the list goes on. We, as trail advocates and builders don't have to go through most of that. And I have no interest in starting - there's already a process in place for trails on Crown land, and really its a pretty reasonable one. Could it be better? Yep. Could it take less time? Yep. 

Forestry has a process, and they follow it. They also have (and this is important) very quantifiable impacts on the local and provincial economy. Its pretty easy to count tax dollars and jobs. Its not the same for mountain biking, or outdoor recreation in general. 

Mountain biking is challenging to measure by these metrics - last time you traveled and got a hotel somewhere, ate dinner, or got gas, did you declare on the forms "I am a traveling mountain biker, bringing my dollars from elsewhere! Rejoice in my revenue!" 

Didn't think so. There's also no "I moved to the Shore (or Squamish, or wherever) for mountain biking" declaration on your tax forms, either. 

The economic impacts of adventure and outdoor rec tourism are very real, and they're also very hard to assign a dollar value. So lets start thinking about how we advocate and lobby for ourselves at the provincial level, and how we quantify the impacts of mountain biking in real-dollar terms. Martin and the MBTA's economic impact studies are a start, but they're currently restricted to the S2S. 

If you live ANYWHERE, you're an elected officials constituent. Use that power. Call them. Get involved. Tell them they should be funding outdoor rec, or you'll vote for someone else next time. And maybe, if enough people do so, the process and funding will improve. 

And speaking of provincial level advocacy...


Curveball  - Jan. 8, 2019, 4:45 p.m.

I'm an occasional MTB tourist to the Province and contribute greatly to the local brewing industry.


+1 cbennett
TheSpangler  - June 12, 2018, 1:30 p.m.

Most of the S57 work is done by Alistair, have any of you dealt with him? Maybe then you can see why there is the backlog and slow process.


COEXIST  - June 13, 2018, 1:24 p.m.

Why don't you ask him why there is a backlog?


TheSpangler  - June 13, 2018, 2:37 p.m.

Go talk to him, you will see what I mean.


+3 Mammal Endur-Bro OwenFoster
wizardB  - June 12, 2018, 6:02 p.m.

I build what I want to ride and will continue to build.


+3 legbacon OwenFoster Curveball
Jrobins  - June 12, 2018, 7:23 p.m.

Sadly forest companies do not have to comply with onerous requirements.  Under the current regulations they are self policed under the concept of professional reliance(like dentists and doctors). That is the absurdity of the situation as all the illegal trails built in bc in the last decade probably dont equate to one months worth of logging. I agree that FLNRO and also BC Parks seem to have a hate on for MTBs


+4 Spoogekin legbacon Tim Owens Sandy James Oates
Jamie Pakos  - June 13, 2018, 9:33 a.m.

What a bunch of crap. I've been mountain biking on the coast for almost 30 years, and though I understand logging is a major part of our economy, I have seen first hand the decimation logging companies do to the coastal forests.

For the BC government to sit back and allow our forests to be pillaged, yet come down hard on trail builders is hypocrisy. Not only do mountain bikers contribute millions of dollars into the economy of BC, we also rejuvenate towns(Cumberland, Squamish, etc), and build and maintain trails for many other groups and visitors to use(horseriders, hikers, climbers, runners, tourists, etc.).

Let's allow pipelines to our coast, our forests to be shipped out of the country, but come down hard on trail builders. Yup, a bunch of crap.


+3 Mammal OwenFoster Cam McRae
jon_h  - June 13, 2018, 12:43 p.m.

This has all come from the logging industry lobbying our spineless politicians. 

We are now at a stage where well liked/heavily used trails are protected from logging - for example Powerhouse Plunge in Squamish. If our forests are filled with potentially protected mountain bike trails, then there are less trees to cut down. The logging industry wants to get in early & reduce the number of mtb trails before they can reach protected status & the government is allowing this to happen.

This hopelessly out-dated industry is clutching at straws in an attempt to extend its lifespan. BC has changed. Your basic 'BC Box' home in Squamish is not worth $1million+ (think property taxes) because of logging or other resourced based industry. Recreation is the new resource & its a sustainable resource that has the potential to continue to grow & bring a great deal more money to BC's economy than logging does. The logging industry is a dinosaur & its about time that dinosaur became extinct. 

No one wants to see job losses, but things have to change. Perhaps those loggers would make awesome paid trail builders? Tourism Canada makes a big deal of the recreation opportunities that exist here, but I don't think they channel any funding towards preserving (or growing) that resource.

If you see Resource Officers out on the trails, I encourage you to question what they are doing there. Remember that they work for you, the tax payer. This is a huge waste of our time & money.

Obviously there is a hypocritical element to all of this. I want a cedar fence in my yard, I want to read paper magazines & wipe my ass with toilet paper. NIMBYism is not usually the answer, but in this case perhaps it is. Move the logging away from the recreation. BC is a very big place. Tourists coming to Canada should not be looking at cut blocks from the Sea-to-Sky highway, or driving through total decimation on their way to Tofino. 

Change can happen if we really want it to. Like Cooper says, we need to demand more from our elected officials.


Curveball  - Jan. 8, 2019, 4:53 p.m.

Some years ago, I took a geology trip across the Island to Tofino and was appalled at the devastation of the forests.

Over the last couple of decades, I've chucked quite a few tourist dollars into the Province on my various biking trips there. BC would not be the world-class riding destination that it is without the rogue trailbuilding that's happened there over the years.


+1 legbacon
Greg Bly  - Nov. 25, 2018, 11:21 a.m.

How many trails hiking or riding were built on the North Shore with official approval? Maybe ten trails?

How many trails on the North Shore?

About 150

How many trails have caused catastrophic land slides or thousands of trees to die?



Jitensha Kun  - Jan. 4, 2019, 1:27 p.m.

What's the history in the courts of BC mtb trail builders being taken to court under this act?

Cam McRae  - Jan. 7, 2019, 8:09 p.m.

I'm not aware of any cases or apprehensions and I don't believe these measures have been enforced. I have however heard of threats being made if building continued in certain areas.


Jitensha Kun  - Jan. 10, 2019, 7:40 a.m.

If it hasn't been to the courts then isn't it speculation to say a judge would throw the stiffest penalty at someone?  Specifically, that at this point the minimum penalty is just as likely as the stiffest penalty.


+1 Mammal
OwenFoster  - Jan. 7, 2019, 9:16 a.m.

As of today Jan 7, 2019, In Squamish there are fourteen Section-57 applications at the desk of the local -severely resource sapped and over subscribed- Recreation Officer. His charge being the review and processing of all of them, a task that not only requires desk work and red tape treading but actual alignment walk through and terrain/waterway assessments etc. Getting I believe 1 summer contract technician to help, his fairly taxing work load reflects the spike in applications since the media blitz in the spring. There was a huge outcry APPLY APPLY but no additional resources to process the new applications.

I'm happily in possession of an approved S57 at the moment. March- Sept was the process. Six months from initial phone call. Believe it or not they prefer to screen your potentially good/bad idea in a quick verbal elevator pitch. I suppose to prevent the Not A Chance ideas from causing wasted time in the procedural mess that is even NO. Simply flat out denying an application still takes time in this system and diverts the few resources the Rec Officer has from working toward a possible approval on another application.

Now, six months sounds really good right? I got lucky. I'd done this before, I had the phone numbers, I knew the people who new the people... I knew I had to help myself if i wanted to go the legit route and not wait years. So I crossed all the t's and dotted the hell out of the i's then made myself the squeakiest wheel I could while playing nice.

I had written endorsement from the forestry Land Manager, SORCA and the blessing of the builders of affect adjacent trails included in the S 57 application. I wanted to deliver it with a cherry on top and see how fast it CAN happen. Also on my side was that the trail would be only 900m long, require no timbre falling, structures/bridges, would ave no major creek crossings, property lines or active resource extraction nearby. Any of which can tender your application anywhere from unlikely to glacial paced to dead in the water... sometimes it just means its going to take FOR-EV-ER.

Still sounds pretty good right? It's not. The process is generally 4 times as complex and thusly 4 times the timeframe. Now do the math. Lets just say that up to six applications are being processed at a time in ernest. I haven't the slightest idea how they do it but lets steelman this and start high to extend real optimism. Then lets assume the average application only takes a year. To even process the current back log will be years. For many who are motivated by dismal weather to head out in the truck with a shovel and go scrape something in to ride in spring, that's just not gonna work.



+1 Mammal
OwenFoster  - Jan. 7, 2019, 9:17 a.m.

It's the hooners who want more. The process does not have a mechanism to say yes to their request should they make it. If they apply for what they actually want it will bog up the system ever worse because they are going to say no anyhow. If its green, blue, black (flow) and doesn't cross any property lines, is not on private property and is not obviously going to be problematic I say APPLY. Just be patient. For those who tinker on trails as a hobby, the patience and planning ahead to building your one-day approved trail required is akin to being into gardening and having to pencil in how your going to prune your tomatoes in 2021... it just doesn't scratch the same itch.

I would love to see the application -were it to have been written- for one of the best fall line trails on Diamondhead ever, 40Down. It was built, ridden and basically died all in 2013. The hypothetical application would have described an alignment dropping about 400m in about 400m with no counter-grades, drainage, excavation, or capping.

Intended use? "locking the rear wheel and not letting it move until your ears pop from elevation loss while screaming"

Intended user ability? "psyco"

Proposed difficulty Rating? "black and red triangle diamond prism"

Legacy Maintenance Schedule? "Nah, just leave it mate, its pitted"

It wouldn't have been worth the Rec Officers time to read then and it's not now. The process is for vanilla, if you want picante you better make your own batch of chili



+1 Mammal
OwenFoster  - Jan. 7, 2019, 9:17 a.m.

Should 40Down have been built? From where I stand, hell yes. It brought a net ~100 great laps to people at least I'd say. That's a tangible positive human life experience metric this readership above all can recognize. That's really cool actually. Say it took 40 hours to dig (guessing) that means all of those hundred riders down it have a ripping good time in their memories forever. The ROI to the community makes it a no brainer for me. Time well spent, volunteer to boot. Cheers to the effort Ziggy, you paid 1 hour of your time to 100 friends.

Through the nature of being pointed fully S.F.D. and existing in a rain forest it has fallen from grace harder than Spacey. It was unridable after a few seasons and now has been mostly reclaimed by the forest and now looks more like some deer have been striding directly uphill than ever having been a recreation site. That's the beauty of unsustainable trails, they are fleeting. Letting them go is as easy and scrapping another one in and watching the rainforest recover. We count on this ability to make forestry viable after all. If cutblocks can flourish on a scale of decades it stands to reason that single track yields to reclamation in years.

In Shore terms; What would be the point of seeking section 57 approval for The Wink ? (had the process existed at that time) Its been said recently that the blue and flowey things have had their moment of attention the last few years on the shore and its time to develop more expert level terrain (a paraphrase of Cooper's comment for NSMBA) but there is a limit to what you can expect to be worthwhile the process.

Personally I think the whole trails act is a very late response to the ladder bridge everything era in trail building. For those tasked with it from a desk in an office in a BC government building hearing about skinnies littering the shore and having the mandate to do something about I'm not at all surprised we got here. Thanks NORSHSHORE! ;-)



+3 Cam McRae Kenny Mammal
OwenFoster  - Jan. 7, 2019, 9:17 a.m.

Big wide flow highways make sense to discuss/sanction given their half life and potential impact. Wee little seasonal single track? Overkill. The list of problems with unauthorized trail building that FLNRO lists is laughably synonymous with all forestry, ATV use, hiking trail development, approach trails to climbing/bouldering, surveying/steak laying. All of it.

Personally all I want is to move some logs out of the way of a natural weave through some bespoke mature forest and maybe rake a bit. The rest is the bastion of rubber and repeat punctuated by touch up maintenance on the most miserable of days for riding. When its proper f'd you can either do the real work of making a sustainable version of it with buckets and effort OR just shut the damn thing.

Sanctioned trails are for aging. Parks and Rec Sites is the department of trails which will get old. Crown land is for all, working to make the woods in your backyard a better place is IMBYism and should encouraged approved with a signature from Victoria or not. I truly wish every wingeing bleeding heart laptop virtue beckon would just go rake a trail or cut drainage the next time they want to bite the hand that feeds and blame builders for a 'problem' that doesn't exist.

Blame it on The GnarSeekers. Its not the fault of the folks visiting town asking Armand or Al the best trails after Rupert and The GarbageBear to ride... oh no, they still have much to vacation ride which contain the 3 principal tenets needed in order to be Legal; wide, golden, and low angle. Those winding and predictable flowing tourist traps are real infrastructure and will not go away once built, much like a road. There is most certainly a reason to measure twice cut once so-to-speak and make sure all these big old bastards are sanctioned.

This is my first comment on NSMB so lets see its not too provocative to post. haha

Cheers gang, good talk.


+1 OwenFoster
Cam McRae  - Jan. 8, 2019, 9:33 p.m.

Excellent points Owen. Feel free to push the envelope further next time!


+1 Cam McRae
tashi  - Jan. 8, 2019, 8:42 a.m.

$10k and jail time?

I can't risk that.  

I guess some of my local trails will go unpruned and undrained this winter.  Oh well.  I'm sure the land managers will step up.


wizardB  - Jan. 9, 2019, 7:50 p.m.

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