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Gospel Rock trail plan prompts concern over ecological impact

The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA) and the Land Conservancy of B.C.
GR Trails
The draft trail plan for Gospel Rock. The “C” marks the multi-use path along the slope above Gower Point Road.

The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA) and the Land Conservancy of B.C. (TLC) say they’re worried about the impact of a multi-use path that could be built on the slope above Gower Point Road as the Gospel Rock Village project moves forward.

The two groups will be involved in the covenants designed to protect some of the natural areas on the Gospel Rock properties owned by Greenlane Homes.

In a presentation to Gibsons council May 5, Dan Bouman of the SCCA said plans for a multi-use path “through extremely sensitive ecological habitat directly above Gower Point Road” inside the covenant area has raised some red flags.

“We’re very concerned about that, because if you’re going to accommodate bicycles that are meant for the highway, a regular road, along with pedestrians, they’re either going to be in close quarters with each other or the obvious solution is to make it wider and give it a better surface – those are exactly the things we don’t want to have happen,” Bouman told council.

Bouman said given the amount of volunteer time and effort the Conservation Association will have to put in to help oversee the covenant, “we need to be clear at the outset that the purpose of the covenant is to protect the ecological values that are found at the site.”

He said the association is looking for an amendment to the development agreement to allow foot traffic but no “mechanical” traffic through the covenant area.

Torrey Archer of the Land Conservancy added that her group was interested in being a party to the Gospel Rock covenants because of “the high ecological significance” of the land.

“I understand that walking trails are very much an important feature for the community and I fully respect that,” she said. “In order to construct a [multi-use] trail that has an appropriate grade and width and using materials that sometimes cannot be permeable, it’s really going to cause a tremendous amount of impact to the landscape.”

The Town’s director of infrastructure services, Dave Newman, said the multi-use path on the slope above Gower Point Road has been included in the plans because it may be the only way to create a safe cycling route.

“When we’re putting in cycling infrastructure it needs to be safe for everybody and so we do have multiple interests that have to be met as part of this development,” Newman said.

Newman also said, however, that it’s still early in the process and if the road improvements can be designed to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians headed in both directions, the path may not have to be built to a multi-use standard.

Council has requested a staff report on the process of finalizing the covenant and options for the trail network.

Torrey said given the importance of the covenant, the SCCA and TLC wanted to be “clear about where we stood.”