News Views: A line on a map

The provincial government continues to throw millions of dollars towards Experience the Fraser.

The provincial government continues to throw millions of dollars towards Experience the Fraser, a plan to link existing parks and trails along both sides of the river from Vancouver to Hope.

We hope it’s worth it.

Most of the money, $2.5 million initially, went towards developing a concept plan – mapping out the hiking and biking trail links.

But because of private property – some of it occupied by industrial businesses, such as saw mills, and even more it being native land – the proposed trail has to go around them, for now. While connected by a line on a map, the trail in areas such as south Albion in Maple Ridge would consist only of a road shoulder and some signs indicating the route.

So it’s not really one, long connected trail, but a series of independent existing ones, like those in South Bonson and Kanaka Creek park, where last month the provincial government announced another million dollars for Experience the Fraser, although none of it is destined for Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. But Liberal MLAs Marc Dalton and Randy Hawes were there, the latter suggesting a small park fee be added to municipal taxes to foot the bill to purchase private, riverfront property if or when it becomes available, to expand the route – fill in the gaps.

It’s a nice idea, but an expensive one. And would such a trail, if completed, really attract tourists – cyclists who want to ride the entire route just to say they did? Where’s the economic return if they’re just bypassing through town?

And why wouldn’t they just take the Trans Canada Trail? Remember that? Who uses it? Who knows where it passes through Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows? Who cares?

Local residents have a plethora of local trails they use in abundance already – and some make up part of the Trans Canada Trail and Experience the Fraser.

And municipalities already have plans to purchase private properties along the river, negotiate with them when they do become available, to expand trail networks. Such enhancements naturally make new developments more attractive, as seen in South Bonson, which is, again, part of Experience the Fraser.

So what new is the provincial government spending millions of dollars on? As far as we can tell, nothing more than a  line on a map.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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