At the meeting of City Council on Tuesday, June 8 Ryan McKenzie of the Kimberley Trails Society (KTS) gave an in-depth presentation to update everyone on the status of the massive Electrify the Mountains Ebike trails project.
The project was announced in late March and is made possible due to an $851,422 grant from B.C.’s Tourism Dependent Community Fund, which the City applied for.
The City of Kimberley will be in charge of all financial management and reporting for the project, hosting tenders and RFPs and the City also is required to have ownership of all assets for a minimum of five years.
KTS will be supporting the building of projects and communicating trail project ideas with the stakeholders. They will be responsible for recommending trail building contractors, utilizing their connections in other towns with workers of this sort. Additionally they will handle all the trail standards and project planning as well as signage and maintenance.
Sustainable Kimberley will be responsible for the charging stations, land agreements for facilities and amenities and accessible washrooms. They’re also looking to secure a grant to bring in a fleet of adaptive bikes to the area.
The breakdown of the $851,422 grant is as follows:
•$10,000 to City of Kimberley for Administration
•$303,832 for Accessible Washrooms and Charging stations
•$531,250 for Trails
• $6340 in additional funds that can be shuffled around.
The first phase of projects include a Kimberley-based accessible trail network, solar base camps and urban eBike charging stations, signage and education, which will come later in the project once it’s been built out, and the development of standards.
This will entail working with the Kootenay Adaptive Sports Association and speaking with eBike companies and tourism groups to see if there are any additional considerations that need to be implemented when building trails with eBikes in mind, although the trails will be open to other users.
The first trail project will be a cross country ring trail with adaptive mountain bike trail and trail extensions. These will not all be new trails, this project includes upgrades to existing trails, including the extremely popular Magic Line Loop, which McKenzie says has deteriorated over time. The Happy Hans trail will also be upgraded for adaptive bikes.
There will be an Ebike, multi-use and adaptive mountain bike loop around the Nordic Centre. In the process of flagging that out. Then connector trails from the Nature Park to the Kimberley Nordic Centre.
Trail project two will see the development of engaging descents for adaptive mountain bikes (aMTB) and eBikes, built to International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and Whistler Trail Building standards for blue and black trails.
McKenzie says this is what a lot of mountain bikers are seeking these days, so it will be a big boost both for local riders and tourists. Some will be made for eBikes and some for aMTbs.
Project three consists of working with a variety of groups including the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) to form connections from the base of the ski hill to these new trail networks, built to allow aMTBs using IMBA and Whistler guidelines for blue trails;
The fourth project entails sustainability upgrades, a smaller project according to McKenzie, which will consist of having another look at some of the area’s C-grade trails and seeing what can be done. This will include realigning the 800-metre Chute Trail and performing trail issue mitigation for erosion and wet areas throughout the network.
McKenzie described the numerous steps in the process of building a trail. It begins with initial flagging of the trail, and using GPS to show others what the plan for it is. Then the stakeholders would be taken on a walkthrough. If there are any issues they can go back and do revisions.
Then the City releases projects to tender, contracts are awarded, builders continue to work with stakeholders, corridor clearing of trees and brush is conducted, and then pin flagging is completed, which indicates a more final route.
Then there’s an optional second walk through and eventually the trails get built, signage gets added and any new or future issues are mitigated with stakeholders.
There was a fair amount of discussion regarding the charging stations and what that might look like. McKenzie showed one potential design of a modified C-Can, with mounted solar panels on top, but said their idea would be to design them to be more aesthetically pleasing.
He also proposed the idea of smaller charging lockers, similar to the concept of phone charging stations at airports. People would be able to ride to one of the stations and stop and relax while their bike’s battery charges.
Councillor Goodwin brought up the fact that the initial plan for the charging stations had transformed, in that the original plan was to put the stations out in the backcountry, which is why they would need to be solar powered. He said that if they are to be put in town, they could just be tied into the grid, and wouldn’t need storage batteries or a large solar panel system.
He also posited building dual-purpose stations that would charge both eBikes and electric cars as there is a growing need for that here in Kimberley.
Some of the proposed locations for solar charging stations are at the Platzl, the ski hill or the Nordic Centre and on or near the staging area for the Trans Canada Trail.
Councillor Oakley said that as this complex and much anticipated project unfolds he would like to see communication coming out all the time as to where everything is at. McKenzie agreed, and said he envisions something akin to what the City did for their Story Map and how they got feedback for the active transportation plan.
He hopes to have a website slowly built out over the project and use some of the project administration funds to hire someone or a group that can handle the communication piece and all the groups involved with it.