Campbell Mountain is already a popular area for outdoor enthusiasts, and Penticton is hoping to enhance that by bringing Crown lands on the mountain under the city’s control.
City council voted 5-1 to start the process of leasing the 741 acres of Crown lands at an overall cost of $45,000. An alternative recommendation, which would see the Penticton and Area Cycling Association be granted a sub-license without public consultation failed.
Land administrator Peter Wallace said the area already has a network of trails used by hikers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts — the proposed lease would not change that use, but would allow the city some oversight, and allow the area to be improved.
“It does make it easier to attract events to there and it makes it easier for us to have control over it,” said Wallace.
PACA was put forward as a sub-licensee because to the work they have already done at Three Blind Mice, where they already have a license to use.
Laura Harp, president of PACA, said Campbell Mountain is too much of a gem to ignore. They have seen increased traffic on Campbell Mountain since they have made it known there are great trails up there.
“We have been asking people to stop building trails up there,” Harp said, adding there are concerns that some might be in environmentally sensitive areas. “There is a lot going on up there and I don’t think it is good to ignore it.”
In terms of cycling, Campbell Mountain is an area suited for moderately skilled riders, compared to Three Blind Mice, which has very challenging trails.
Coun. Max Picton moved the alternate recommendation, saying PACA had done an excellent job with Three Blind Mice.
Interim CAO Mitch Moroziuk Moroziuk cautioned against skipping a public engagement process.
“I think if you went straight to an agreement with PACA that you would have a lot of other users that would feel they weren’t part of the process,” said Moroziuk.
Couns. Helena Konanz and Campbell Watt were opposed sublicencing the lease to PACA.
“We just had a presentation this morning about public input,” said Konanz. “We can’t take for granted that it is just PACA that is interested in this.”
Watt said council should be careful about giving control of a park area to a single group without consultation. He said they should approach all user groups first.
Picton argued that working with PACA from the start would move work along quickly.
“I am aware that there is going to be other groups, but with the non-exclusive license, it leaves the door open for other groups to approach us,” said Picton. “I would like to see us take this lease on and I would like to see PACA start working on these trails as soon as possible.”
There are some other user groups that won’t want cycling on the mountain at all,” said Wallace, noting that it would take about six months to negotiate the deal with the government. “We can do public engagement while we are doing that.”
He said a first step would be to do the environmental study, which might help determine acceptable uses.
“That could be a game changer as well,” said Wallace.
Watt, who expressed concern about dedicating $45,000 to the project, remained opposed, saying the situation on the mountain was working and the city did not need to be involved.