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REPORTING · 21st July 2011
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council is going to write a letter of support to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and National Resources to support a Seasonal Closure on motorised vehicles on Clague Mountain during the summer.

In a memo to Council, Municipal Manager Ron Poole writes: “Motorized use occurs year round in Clague Mountain Park. This is a popular area for members of the Kitimat Snowmobile Club and other snow machine riders. It is also popular for non motorized snow sport aficionados, including back country skiers and snowshoers. ATV use in summer and fall is another popular activity. Concerns regarding damage to alpine areas from excessive or inappropriate ATV traffic have been, unfortunately, a matter of concern for well over a decade. Education programs have not been effective at eliminating the riding practices which cause excessive damage.”

A further letter written to Gwen Sewell, Community Planner from a recreational officer which was provided to Council explains there has been damage to trails and sub alpine meadows by the un-regulated access of ATVs. The recommendation is to not allow any motorized vehicles on the trail from June 1st to October 31st. This ban will be enforced by a gate 1 kilometre from the trailhead.

At the Council meeting on July 18th, debate began with Councillor Randy Halyk who said he was concerned the area would still be damaged if there was no frost on it, as a snowmobiler could damage it if there was no snow there.

“Snowmobiles generally don’t travel in that kind of situation but I know that they do, they can. My concern is that if we are going to take motorized vehicles off of there, we take them all off,” said Halyk.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know what the Advisory Recreation Commission has said about this but was told it was under the influence of the Planning Department. Feldhoff also pointed out this was a request from the ministry of the Environment and they will impose the closure regardless.

Councillor Bob Corless wanted to know how much of the public was concerned. Sewell expressed there were three or four calls and 2 letters from the public. Corless was opposed to taking the fun away from many as there were dozens of people with ATVs. He did not want to put up red tape preventing them from having fun.

“The concerns here are environmental concerns. We recommend that we have a very few number of people who are damaging the upper meadows but it is an on going concern. The meadows are destroyed by inappropriate ATV use during the short summer season,” said Sewell. “The hikers are complaining about the damage being done to an area that they like.”

She expressed the damage was coming from people who were leaving the trail and doing donuts in the sub alpine meadows. Monaghan said the damage was devastating as it would take a long time for the terrain to come back.

Feldhoff suggested only forbidding vehicles from the sub alpine meadows but it was pointed out Council will not be able to enforce this.

Halyk pointed out the memo talked only about ATVs, but did not talk much about motorcycles which also do damage. Corless wanted to know what the damage meant to the sub alpine, in case they did not do damage.

Sewell pointed out this was chasing hikers out of the area, which would be indicative of the individuals who did not write. Martin Gould, head of Kitimat Leisure Services expressed the ATVs causing the damage were not sticking to the trails and ripping the Alpine Meadow to shreds. The meadow will not come back for 3-4 lifetimes. This is work to preserve an environmentally sensitive area.

Corless wanted to know who would enforce this. Sewell stated it was a provincial order. The motion was called and carried. Councillor Randy Halyk and Councillor Bob Corless were opposed.