The RMOW is leading the development of a non-motorized Recreation Trails Strategy (RTS) that will guide direction related to trail and trail-related amenity development, improvement, access, funding and management.
The project is currently in the community engagement phase where we are sharing the background work done to date and asking for input on the Initial Directions that have emerged so far. Community input will help to inform the development of the Recreation Trails Strategy and the recommendations contained within it. What we hear from the community will be shared back in summary form on this page, our online RTS engagement page, and as part of the Recreation Trails Strategy report presented to Council at the end of the project.
Prior to this community engagement phase, we have hosted workshops with municipal committees and working group stakeholders including the Trails Planning Working Group, the Whistler Bear Advisory Committee, the Forests and Wildlands Advisory Committee, and the Recreation and Leisure Advisory Committee.
In Whistler, trails exist on Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) property, crown land, private property, and in some cases leased land. Decisions related to Whistler's trail networks can be complex given the multiple jurisdictions and stakeholders involved.
The purpose of the Recreation Trails Strategy is to guide how decisions are made related to trail management and development in Whistler.
The Recreation Trails Strategy will not specify the number, location or types of trails, which will be the focus for a future and more detailed non-motorized Trails Master Plan.
Elements being considered through the development of the Recreation Trails Strategy include:
- Trail access and staging areas
- Environmentally responsible trail development
- Trail inventory
- Trail approval process
- Unsanctioned trails
- Commercial and event use
- Trail funding
Given the urgent nature of some of the elements above, recent initiatives have been undertaken, including management and monitoring initiatives related to grizzly bears, alpine areas and e-bikes. Ongoing trails implementation and engagement will also continue in parallel, and in coordination to this work. A more complete list of recent initiatives is included in the Background section below.
- Achieve shared high-level direction related to:
- Non-motorized trail and trail-related amenity development, improvements, access, funding and management, including approaches, practices and responsibilities
- Potential areas for future trail connectedness, development and improvement
- Emerging trail user types and needs
- Non-motorized trail-related challenges that have emerged in recent years
- Establish the groundwork for a future and more detailed Trails Master Plan
- Enhance community understanding of the breadth and complexity of trail management, and the associated financial implications
- Identify reliable and consistent funding sources for annual trail maintenance
- Develop a clear, easy to use Recreation Trails Strategy document that articulates shared trail-related direction and integrates all key trail-related topics together in one place
Project phases and timelines
Project Planning (complete): The project planning phase included defining project parameters, an online survey, and the development of a request for proposal (RFP) to seek consultants to assist with the Recreation Trails Strategy. Results from the March 2021 community survey were used to gather input from community members about trail-related challenges, goals and current initiatives to help inform project planning. Following a public Request for Proposals call, Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd. and the Whistler Centre for Sustainability were retained by the municipality in May 2022.
Strategy Development (2022/23): The strategy development phases and deliverables will be determined through the project planning phase and finalized with assistance from the project consultants. It includes trail-related amenities such as trailhead parking and washrooms, trail signage, lookouts, and more.
Community members, trail stakeholders and partners will be engaged through the project. The initial RTS project planning phase included an online survey to gather input to inform further development of the project plan. The Community Survey Results Summary is now complete.
During the development of the RTS, engagement with the broader community will continue. Further, it is expected that engagement will also involve stakeholders, community partners and representatives of the Squamish First Nation and Lil’wat First Nation, ensuring their interests, objectives and concerns are considered and reflected in the plan as much as possible. Some of the stakeholder groups and partners we expect to engage are:
- Trails Planning Working Group
- Forest and Wildland Advisory Committee
- Recreation Leisure Advisory Committee
- Whistler Bear Advisory Committee
- Alpine Club of Canada (Whistler Section)
- Trials99 (observed trails riding)
- Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation
- Cheakamus Community Forest
- Recreation Sites and Trails BC
- Other land managers
Trails within the scope of the RTS will include off-road trails on municipal, Crown and private land, including those that are formally established and those that are not. It also includes trail-related amenities such as trailhead parking and washrooms, trail signage, lookouts, etc. The Valley Trail network and resource roads (including forest service and resource or infrastructure access roads) are generally outside of the project scope. However, where they provide access to or have an impact on recreational off-road trails, they will be considered in the project.
While non-motorized, non-winter (i.e. spring, summer, fall) recreational trail use will be the focus of the Recreation Trails Strategy there is one motorized exception: observed trials motorcycles. Observed trials motorcycle use will be included as it predates mountain biking in Whistler, continues to this day, and many of today’s mountain bike trails originated as trials motorcycle trails.
Dirt motorcycles (also known as dirt bikes), snowmobiles and snow bikes will be excluded from this project as they are prohibited from using the recreational non-motorized trails targeted in this project. Snowmobile use on Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain will be excluded from this project. These uses are currently managed by the local snowmobile clubs and Recreation Sites and Trails BC, with direct input from the RMOW.
The geographic scope of the project covers the area within Whistler’s municipal boundary (see red dotted line on the map below). Particular emphasis will be placed upon the interface between the Whistler Urban Development Containment Area boundary (black solid line surrounding the Whistler’s developed area) and adjacent and tenured lands, as well as assets of municipal interest or investment outside of the municipal boundary such as the alpine trail networks on Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain. The Whistler Interpretive Forest will be included. Whistler Blackcomb’s Controlled Recreation Area (pink dotted line), Garibaldi Provincial Park (BC Parks) and Whistler Olympic Park will be excluded from the scope, but engagement will occur with these organizations for compatibility reasons as much as possible.