Mountain bike trail construction gets go-ahead from Windsor city council

Construction on off-road biking trails in two Windsor parks has been given the go-ahead by Windsor city council.

On Monday, trail designer Justin Truelove presented a report to council — describing what a series of off-road cycling trails in Malden Park and Little River Corridor Park would look like, along with associated costs.

For Truelove, the two parks are great places for mountain bike trails.

"Where do you put mountain biking trails when there's no mountains? Malden's great. It's got elevation. It's an old dumpsite. So it's really easy to use and manipulate the landscape," said Truelove, adding Malden Park will be a great place for competitive mountain biking events.

Reuben Krabbe/Sun Peaks Resort

"Little River Corridor is fantastic ... It's perfect for beginners ... Great for kids, families to get out on trails and recreate."

The total projected cost for the project, according to the report, is $496,000. That's $4,000 less than what Windsor city council had originally set aside for this project in its 2018 Enhanced Capital Budget.

Construction split up into three 'priorities'

According to the report, construction on the trails will be split into three phases — or "priorities."

The first phase — "priority one" — would see the construction of single-track trails at Malden Park.

The second phase — "priority two" — would shift to Little River Corridor Park, where single-track trails and a pump track would be installed.

Construction would move back to Malden Park for the third phase — or, as you may have guessed, "priority three."  That's when a pump track and a "beginner skills area" would be introduced in Malden Park as well.

Safety concerns

The plan wasn't approved by council without its share of hesitation, however.

Councillors Irek Kusmierczyk, Jo-Anne Gignac and Ed Sleiman raised concerns with one section of Malden Park being turned into a mountain bike trail — a long, steep and fairly straight path, allowing cyclists to pick up lots of speed.

"The concerns are still there," said Kusmierczyk. "Are there changes that could be incorporated today? Because that intersection is going to be too fast moving."

Truelove acknowledged that section can invite "a little bit more speed" — but said the alignment of some trails can be altered.

"It can be modified and changed up until we place shovels in the ground," said Truelove.

Coun. Kieran McKenzie, however, raised a different concern — specifically, if the trails coincide with what EMS workers consider to "best practices."

"There will be injuries on this trail network. There's no question about that. So how our first responders respond to those moments is an important thing for us to address," said McKenzie.

Jan Wilson, the city's executive director of parks and recreation, responded by saying a "committee of first responders" was put together and given access to trail maps and signage.

"We now have that established group. They've already done some sight meetings out in [Little River Corridor] Park," she said. "We'll continue to work with the first responders on that as well."

Additionally, Truelove says the trails will make a great place for EMS workers to undergo training.

"In areas out west where we see more search-and-rescue volunteer groups, they often need recertification in more offroad and rugged training and terrain," said Truelove. "So for city EMTs, it's a great area for them to get more rugged-style training that they may not have had before."

Next steps

With council having granted approval, Truelove said he will meet with the city's parks and recreation department to train them on how to construct and maintain mountain bike trails.

"It will entail about a week's worth of training, both in the classroom and in the field," he said.

The purpose is to give the city the training it needs so it can build new trails on its own, without having to constantly consult Truelove.

Sanjay Maru/CBC

"We'll get them to go out in the field. We'll get them designing certain sections of field that have been GPS'ed — talk about water management, user management, erosion issues, drainage, feature building, construction management."

For Wilson, her hope is that some of the mountain bike trails are ready for Windsor's cyclists before the end of this year.

"There are some that are taking use of existing trails, so those ones might be a little bit easier just to make some modifications to — and then we can put them into service," said Wilson.

"I foresee us having this opened up in different phases. As we're able to work through some of the easier ones to get built, other ones will take longer and we would be looking into next year before they would be ready."