Our Concerns

Our Concerns

Our Concerns about the River Valley ARP and Ribbon of Green SW + NE Plans

Many of you have signed up for the engagement sessions the City of Edmonton has for refreshing the River Valley Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and the new Ribbon of Green SW + NE plans. While EMBA is very happy to support the intent of these plans and keep our green spaces green, many parts of these plan have us concerned and we believe the plans need some careful refinement in order to save our existing singletrack network and form the long-term future as well.

EMBA has received requests to outline our concerns and help with talking points to assist you in these meetings.

·       It is very important to note the difference in designation between areas as denoted by the colour coded system on the maps provided in the Ribbon of Green.  Areas are divided into Preservation, Conservation, and Active/Working Landscapes.  While cycling is allowed in active/working landscapes and conservation areas, it would be prohibited in preservation areas.  The Ribbon of Green SW + NE show large swaths of preservation areas which if were to be enabled as is today would remove mountain bike activities completely in these areas and would threaten many existing well used trails.  While some areas would allow for the singletrack trails to continue to exist, many areas would be banned from all non-foot traffic.  It would not constitute a complete ban of cycling the river valley, but there would be a great reduction in the amount of areas we are allowed to legally enjoy and maintain.

·       EMBA would like to see a development of singletrack trail master plan. This plan would identify and classify all existing trails, legal or not, as they exist, are being used and therefore need to be included.  In addition, it would include plans for future trails throughout the river valley and ravine system.  This masterplan would have language that formulates a proactive approach to trail care and enables and emboldens volunteer organizations like EMBA to build and maintain singletrack trails in the river valley in a cohesive, understandable language for all parties and stakeholders involved.

·       Currently, although EMBA is able to maintain some singletrack trails, there are many more we are not allowed to maintain. Those that we are allowed to be maintain require an arduous process of paper work with the city. EMBA would like to be able to maintain all single track in the river valley. The mismatch of properly cared for trails and other high-used but not regular maintained trails is a safety and environmental concern.

·       New trail building, significant reroutes, and structure construction are next to impossible for EMBA as the process can take months to years with decisions often being overturned after they enter the next project gate.

·       Not having a long term singletrack plan promotes rogue trail builders to continue as in the end rogue trail builders want the exact same outcome we all do – a great singletrack trail system while preserving the natural environment of the river valley for everyone.

·       Our trails are used by all many different types of user groups and although we were founded on mountain biking and are all avid cyclists, we want to see the trails safely maintained in a way for everyone to be able to enjoy them.

·       Mountain biking should be allowed on all singletrack trails. Numerous scientific studies have shown that mountain bike activities pose no more of an impact to trails in any areas than regular foot traffic. It is not backed by science to not allow some users groups in while banning others like mountain bikers. There are areas like Whitemud creek that see a blanket ban on mountain biking.  While there are areas in this ravine that need to be protected for ecological reasons, there are areas which could safely be opened up to cyclists and hikers.

·       Single track network should extend to all ravines and provide a separate network from the gravel and paved multi-use path network.  Singletrack trails that are 3’ wide have a much smaller footprint than gravel and paved trails which are often 12-15’ wide and have a 20’ or greater right of way.

·       Some trails need to be one direction and some trails need to have separate bypasses in areas of high conflict. Allowing proper trail signage, wayfinding, and trailhead information on all trails including singletrack trails would enable this as well as add another layer of safety by including ways to contact emergency and where how to locate a potentially injured trail user.

Above are some of the speaking points that we have already presented during stakeholder sessions and we hope you can continue to echo these sentiments as well as add in your own personal reasons for the continued use and development of Edmonton’s singletrack network.