Motorized vehicles will be banned on a six-kilometre portion of the KVR Trail through Naramata under terms of a new shared-use plan that has gained support from groups on both sides of the tracks.
While the southern section between Arawana Road and Little Tunnel will be closed this spring to all but human-powered modes of transportation, the northern portion of the trail between Glenfir and Little Tunnel will be upgraded to allow continued motorized vehicle access, the B.C. government announced last week.
An earlier version of the plan was unveiled in September 2012 and prompted an angry backlash from some who feared people with mobility issues would be prevented from accessing landmarks like the Little Tunnel.
Soon after, a group dubbed Keep our KVR Trail Accessible formed to fight for continued motorized access. Its members are generally content with the plan now.
“I know that not everybody’s going to be happy, no matter which side it is – people within our group or people within the cycling-pedestrian community — but this looks like a good compromise solution,” said KOKATA spokesman Gary Dicken.
“The main point that our group was trying to make was that you needed to maintain access to those key points like the Little Tunnel… Adra Tunnel and Rock Ovens Park.”
Those latter two landmarks are further up the trail and remain accessible to motorized vehicles, but will be looked at in the next phase of the shared-use plan.
The first phase was drafted with input from a trailers users’ working group, which heard submissions from KOKATA.
“I’m just really pleased that they listened to us,” Dicken said. “I wasn’t sure that they would.”
Lyle Resh, who represented the Naramata Woodwackers on the working group, said his organization is similarly pleased because the new agreement addresses its primary worry.
“We suggested that it be closed off (to motorized users) between Arawana and Little Tunnel and that was our main concern because of all the walkers and the bicyclists. It’s very busy with them and their kids and all the rest,” he explained.
Resh said only a small number of motorized users create problems along the trail, part of which his group maintains, but it’s enough to chase away people on what is a particularly tourist-friendly part of the route.
In a press release announcing the plan, the B.C. government indicated it would beef up the Glenfir-Little Tunnel section with safety improvements, turnaround signs and a parking area, and continue to work with motorized users to enhance staging areas and trails between Naramata and Chute Lake.
The province also noted it has spent $250,000 on the Naramata portion of the KVR Trail since 2010, including a $140,000 resurfacing job completed last fall.