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Six Mountains’ rising popularity spurs municipal plans to manage mountain biking

North Cowichan is proposing a land-transfer deal with a property developer that would add new and expanded parking lots to help manage a growing number of mountain bike enthusiasts on Mount Tzouhalem.

Council heard at its Tuesday meeting that the deal would create a new lot with 40 to 60 parking spaces on the southwest corner of the roundabout atop Kingsview Road. An existing parking lot in the 6300-block Nevilane Drive would be expanded from 25 parking spots to 40 to 45 spaces. Both sites would have bathrooms, but bike wash-stations remain up in the air.

“There is no single answer to this question,” said Don Stewart, director of parks and recreation. “But it’s a multitude of opportunities….”

In exchange, Transtide Kingsview Development Ltd. would receive permission for a rezoning request that would allow some townhouse sites to be developed for duplex and small-lot single-family housing. This would result in a drop in density of “about 100 units,” said Rob Conway, director of planning and building.

The Municipality is also exploring a trail system from Maple Bay fire hall to Nevilane.

The proposed agreement follows concerns from residents of Kaspa Road, Salish Drive, Chippewa Road and Sansum Drive related to traffic headed to the main Tzouhalem parking area atop Kaspa. Concerns have included speeding and parking on residential streets when the lot fills up. Traffic control has been necessary on busier weekends and stat holidays.

Commercial mountain bike operations are restricted from using the Kaspa parking area from 10 a.m to 3:00 p.m. during those peak periods.

Council also approved a motion from Councillor Christopher Justice that street signs be posted in the Kaspa area reminding visitors they cannot park within two metres of residential driveways, with periodic enforcement.

Stewart suggested that a rollout of Covid-19 vaccine will result in a return to indoor recreational activities to help reduce public pressure on the trail system.

The Municipality is also investigating: a mountain bike skills park and parking lot midway up Mt. Tzouhalem near the start of Bumble Bee Trail; a climbing trail for mountain bikes on Mount Prevost to avoid vehicle shuttles; and trail improvements on Mount Richards for hikers and horse riders only.

A Crofton to Maple Bay Trail is also envisioned, with development of a parking lot at Roberts Street and expansion of the parking lot at the Osborne Bay Road entrance to Maple Mountain.

— Larry Pynn, Feb. 4, 2021


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