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Sahtlam trails being trashed by reckless, illegal vehicle riders

Loren Duncan -
Loren Duncan
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A cash-and-trash argument continues concerning scofflaws ruining new Sahtlam trails where motorized rides are banned.

Sahtlam Director Loren Duncan laments trails between Jordan's Lane to Belvedere Crescent have been wrecked by dirt-bike and ATV riders, after the trails were groomed by developer Caromar, then gifted to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

"The CVRD has a management and enforcement issue to overcome here. Signs prohibiting motorized vehicle usage will be installed. The present damage done to the trail surface and bed will cost approximately $10,000 in taxpayer dollars to repair, Duncan said in an email conversation cced to the News Leader Pictorial. "This is not sustainable."

But Sahtlam resident Mike Lees sees those fixes as money wasted, though he understands Duncan's disgust at the damage.

"I have no angst over the banning of motorized traffic on these trails," he wrote Duncan.

"I don't harbour any resentment over any other designation of non-motorized use on valley trails.

"I did not feel we should be spending an estimated $10,000 of Area E taxpayers' money to repair trails that are substandard on turn over — and have been since they were installed, regardless of their abuse."

And Lees feels the trail vandalism will sadly continue.

"Until there is habitation in this subdivision, it will continue to happen — we fix it, and I feel they will continue to abuse it!

"I see the examples every time I ride responsibly in the back country of the Cowichan Valley," Lees says, admitting trail-use education is needed.

"While the trailway concept is good, I feel that it will be good money chasing bad until there is habitation."

Instead of continuing to fix the trails, Lees suggests using the $10,000 on "improving the new park that is being developed in Sahtlam, a park available to all members of the community."

Nonetheless, Duncan hopes to gain other recreational development lands for Sahtlam by showing the CVRD can preserve property and protect it from reckless, illegal riding.

"Change is going to happen, lots are going to be developed and built upon," he said.

"The owners have proposed significant lands to be gifted to the CVRD under an ecological protection covenant, which specifically bans motorized vehicles."

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