Plan would change trails in Summerland park

Plan would change trails in Summerland park

Proposal calls for removal of 6,600 metres of trails in Giant’s Head Mountain Park

A proposed plan for Giant’s Head Mountain Park would see some changes to the hiking and cycling trails on the landmark mountain.

At an open house presentation last week, Keith Nyhof of Bench Site Design Inc. said the proposal calls for 400 metres of new trail to be created, 5,600 metres of existing trail to be restored and 6,600 metres of redundant or environmentally damaging trails to be decomissioned.

At present, the park has around 12 kilometres of trails, including a paved narrow road from Milne Road to an upper parking area, the Giant’s Head Grind trail and some makeshift trails which have evolved over the years.

Reducing the amount of trail will be better for the park and the mountain in the long term, Nyhof said.

The plan calls for the creation of mountain bike downhill trails separate from the hiking and walking trails.

The paved road would also be improved, with pullout areas added.

The Giant’s Head Grind trail, a steep path, would be maintained, but a less steep trail would also be created.

Kiosks have been suggested for the park entrance at Milne Road and the upper parking area. These kiosks would include trailhead and park information.

Brian Arquilla, an ecologist with Mountain Pacific Environmental Consultants Ltd., said decomissioning some of the trails would improve the habitats on the mountain.

“Landscape features are critical for species living there,” he said.

Lisa Scott, a biologist from Summerland, is concerned with the amount of time it could take to restore the damaged areas on the mountain.

“It’s a very dry system that will be difficult to replant into,” she said. She added that species living in the area, including ground-nesting birds and snakes, will be affected by changes on the mountain.

Nyhof said the new trails added will be done to make connections with existing trails in the park.

Joanne Malar, program co-ordinator with the municipality’s parks and recreation department, said the trail work is needed in the park.

“A lot of erosion is happening,” she said.

The trail improvement work is a large project, with an estimated cost of $1 to $1.5 million.

The timeline for the work will depend on grant funding.

The municipality has applied for a $725,000 project for next year. This project includes $190,000 from the municipality, $100,000 from the Summerland Rotary Club and $435,000 in grant funding.