Cycle 16 nears membership goal

Membership is up to 800 for the society that wants to build a bike path from Telkwa to Smithers

Cycle 16 Trail Society is inching closer to hitting their membership goal. Tony Harris, president of the group that aims to build a paved path from Smithers and Telkwa said they’ve just signed up their 800th member. Their goal is to hit 1,000.

“We see a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “For the last four years we’ve been working on a feasibility study to see if this trail would even be possible. We just started dealing with a pivotal landowner and we think we can be successful so it will be good to get our membership up so we can get support when we need it.”

A lifetime membership is $15 and shows support, but it also helps with grant and funding opportunities.

“Becoming a member means you are putting your energy and your money where your mouth is and helping to push this project along,” Harris added. “Right now there are seven volunteers working on the board and we’ve just had our 56th monthly meeting. It is a project that will be built by the community, not by seven volunteer board members so we need to know that people are behind it and supporting it somehow. We don’t need a lot of support but we need some support.”

The trail will be off Highway 16 along the BC Hydro right-of-way.

At the Smithers end, the plan is to go along the west side of the highway. Around the half way mark, it will cross the highway with a bridge and follow the east side of the highway to Telkwa. The project will be done in phases with the first phase beginning at the Bulkley River bridge by the former Riverside Par 3 and RV Park and ending at Laidlaw Rd.

“There is definately a lot of interest in it and a lot of people want to ride their bikes and they find the highway is an unsafe place to ride,” said Harris. “There are a lot of distracted drivers these days and there isn’t much room on the white line between you and a truck hurdling by at 100 km/hr. People are interested in the trail and it will change people’s lives for the better.”

The society is currently working on the details of a right-of-way with a landowner going up the hill out of Smithers. A consultation service was hired last summer to provide a detailed concept design for the challenging elevation change in phase one of the project.

“There are a couple of things about this trail that are really important. The number one is that it is safe, then of course there is the look of it, then there is the grade and so forth. A landowner has generously offered a right of way that will make a safer trail for us,” said Harris.

He added they are feeling very positive with how things are going so far.

“It has been an awful lot of work to get to this point and there is still a lot of work to do but there is at least a clear path forward now which we haven’t been able to see, that is pretty encouraging,” he said.

The next step is to figure out who will own the trail. They made a presentation to the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako RDBN recently and asked them to consider owning the trail because the society can’t own it themselves. The RDBN will make a decision after they complete a Parks and Outdoor Recreation Services Study.

Cycle 16 is also looking for volunteers and need someone to help with communication and people who are interested in fundraising.

They will be holding an annual general meeting on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Old Church. There will be updates on the trail and a membership prize draw. Anyone who has purchased a membership recently could win a bike tune-up from McBike and a charcuterie board.

There will also be a presentation of a cycling tour of North America, Central America and South America by Debbie Wellwood and Lothar Schaefer.

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