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Burnaby Mountain Trail Management plan enters community engagement phase

The plan will provide a strategy for improving and upgrading trails in the area over the next 10 years while protecting the environment

With more than 30 kilometres of trails over an area of 578 hectares, the Burnaby Mountain trail system attracts more visitors than any other park in the city. Since the pandemic started in 2020, the trails around the mountain have seen more than 1 million visitors annually. As a designated conservation area, Burnaby Mountain is an environmentally sensitive area that requires conservation, and the city is now creating a plan to balance conservation needs with community recreation needs. The new plan will be presented to council on Monday, April 29. 

Playground of the Gods on Burnaby Mountain. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

According to a presentation at the April 16 Parks Recreation and Culture Committee (PRCC) meeting by Heather Edwards, manager of parks, planning, design, and development, cell phone tracking data shows that 96% of visitors to the area are from Metro Vancouver, 50% from Burnaby and 23% from the UniverCity and SFU community on the mountain. 

As the plan enters its community engagement phase, the city is eager to hear from trail users, community members, neighbours, Indigenous host nations, and other stakeholders. Specifically, the city is seeking feedback on how to best balance conservation and recreation, address environmental damage caused by rogue trails, and improve aging infrastructure. 

Community engagement starts on May 1, 2024. According to Andre Isakov, director of parks, recreation, and culture planning with the city, engagement will take the form of surveys, open houses, and meetings with specialized groups of stakeholders. Outreach and engagement with First Nations will be part of the process. 

“Community engagement is really important. It’s critical to have broad buy-in from the community and consensus on how we move forward with protecting Burnaby Mountain as a park and how we can sustainably accommodate various recreational needs and desires from the community as well,” Isakov said.

A section of the Velodrome Trail on Burnaby Mountain. Photo: Henrik Loecke

Isakov told the Beacon that the city has been considering a trail management plan for Burnaby Mountain for several years, especially after the pandemic saw an increase in trail use. In addition to the formal trails on the mountain, rogue and informal trails have caused environmental damage over the years. Isakov added that some of the mountain’s infrastructure is aging or informal and needs to be formalized. 

“We know that ecologically, it’s a really sensitive area, but we also know that there’s a lot of demand and pressure for outdoor recreational trail usage as well. Through that engagement process, we’re trying to find that delicate balance to make sure that the uses that we have and the infrastructural investments that we make are strategic,” Isakov said. “We know that we’re going to have to invest in and improve some of those trails, but we want to make sure those improvements are strategic and that we work with the community to engage on the improvement plan.”

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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