IMBA Canada supports access to Canada's wild spaces

(Squamish, BC) Recently, IMBA USA provided written testimony and a press release discussing their opposition to Bill H.R. 1349, which would amend the Wilderness Act to permit mountain bikers access to wilderness areas. IMBA Canada would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position on access to wild spaces in Canada.

We believe that mountain bikers in Canada have the right to access trails on crown land and in our protected spaces. The science shows that mountain bikes do not inherently cause greater environmental impact than other forms of non-motorized trail use, and blanket restrictions similar to the ones set out in the Wilderness Act are ignorant of that fact. We recognize that there are some limited cases where access restrictions are appropriate. In those cases only a collaborative stakeholder consultation process will result in a sustainable protection model. 

IMBA Canada works with provincial and federal land managers to develop best practices for sustainable trail design, construction, and maintenance. These guidelines have gone on to become stated as best management practices in many agency documents. This enables our member trail associations to create sanctioned and protected world class trail networks. It is important to remember that our local trail associations have demonstrated the sophistication and professionalism necessary to advocate, and that supporting local land managers and clubs to make decisions on their own trail access issues is critical.

While we don’t have the same access challenges in Canada, we do have difficulties of our own. Our recent advocacy survey revealed the two most common challenges faced by non-profit trail associations: funding and time. As an organization dedicated to supporting our member associations, we are committed to addressing these challenges and exploring new opportunities as they become available.  

Recognizing that our provinces are the biggest land managers across Canada, we are currently piloting a provincial program in BC geared towards addressing specific challenges related to trails.  We are investigating new ways to deliver funding to trail associations through municipalities. We are continuing to provide our Trail Care Crew workshops and trail planning services, something our trail associations requested more of in our survey. We directly coordinate with local associations or individuals when access issues present themselves. We are investigating ways to lobby the provincial governments to ensure mountain bikers are considered on a level playing field against traditional land use practices.

About IMBA Canada

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (Canada) is a non‐profit association whose mission is to ensure Canada is home to a strong and vibrant mountain bike community, riding a world-class network of mountain bike trails. Affiliated with like-minded IMBA organizations around the world, IMBA Canada strives to bring out the best in mountain biking by encouraging low-impact riding, volunteer trail work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, grassroots advocacy and innovative trail management solutions. Our core values: Speak, Build, Respect, and Ride represent the call to action for IMBA Canada affiliated clubs nationwide. (www.imbacanada.com)

Contact:
AJ Strawson
Executive Director, IMBA Canada
C: 778 871 7307 | aj [dot] strawson [at] imbacanada [dot] com

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