No plan yet for Blue Mountain

Hikers, bikers, motorcycle rider, ecologists and government renew efforts to complete strategy

Provincial cash to plan two parking lots on Blue Mountain is advancing to the day when a grand plan will be in place, deciding who has what fun and where on the hill in the 272nd Street area.

Hikers, mountain bikers, motorcycle riders, environmentalists and wood lot managers met in October to review plans and get updated on the latest moves by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Having the money to start planning the parking lots, which will serve as staging areas for users of the mountain, could kick start the completion of a management strategy for the whole area.

That could take another one to two years, but that’s up to the B.C. government, said Maple Ridge recreation general manager Kelly Swift.

“The whole area will have a management strategy. There will be specific zones for specific uses,” she said.

Swift pointed out the locations of the two staging areas. Places where people can park their vehicles and unload their mountain bikes, motocross machines or snow shoes haven’t been determined.

But likely, one staging area will be for motorized vehicles while another will serve non-motorized users.

The planning process has been creeping along for a decade.

Nevertheless, October’s meeting drew about 25 people concerned about Blue Mountain.

“I was surprised at the number of user groups at the meeting. It shows you the diverse range of interests,” Swift said.

The next step is for government and First Nations agencies to harmonize planning, followed by the ministry individually consulting each of the user groups, from motorcycle clubs to conservationists, about what they’d like to do and where.

The goal is to provide each user with its own part of the mountain, although some compatible uses could overlap.

So far, the mapping of all trails has been completed and will continue to be updated, while an environmental report by the Blue Mountain Off-Road Motorcycle Club has been completed.

The ministry-led approach is winning the support of the user groups, Swift says in her report, although some  would like baseline environmental studies done before any further work.

For related story see, Maple Ridge News, Nov. 26, 2009.

 

Albion light

Crossing busy 240th Street will become easier for Albion elementary students next year, after the installation of a pedestrian controlled light at Hill Avenue.

Parent advisory council chair Rachel Thompson and Albion principal Ron Lanzarotta asked Maple Ridge council to speed up the process for the light, even though it’s already been approved in the 2012 business plan.

The school wants to see the light installed in the first quarter of next year.

“They didn’t make any commitments, but they seemed supportive,” Thompson said of council.

Traffic volumes continue to climb on 240th Street and just reached the point where a pedestrian-controlled light was justified.

“I think the solution’s good,” she said. “It not only makes it better for pedestrians, but also probably makes it better for traffic control.”

The two showed council images of vehicles ignoring the busy crosswalk, which is just north of Lougheed Highway.

“Traffic isn’t getting any better.”

 

Transition housing

Troubled youth looking for a place to live will have another option if a proposal by the Alouette Home Start Society becomes reality.

The society wants to apply to the Vancouver Foundation for a $245,000 grant over three years so it can provide transitional housing for youth between the ages of 17 and 24.

The project is called Route 29: The Road Home and will operate on a total budget over three years of $490,000.

Contributions from other agencies and free use of a district-owned rental property for three years will be part of the project.

The intent will be to integrate youth back into society so they eventually can live independently.

The Home Start society also will operate Alouette Heights, the new 46-unit supportive housing building on Brown Avenue that opens this spring.

If successful, the transition house will be integrated into future applications for funding requests from the Iron Horse Youth Safe House, also operated by the Alouette Home Start Society.

Council supported the project in principle and will be forwarding it for public notice before finally approving it.

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