There was recently an Instagram post criticizing how much Mountain Bike Halifax has accomplished, followed by some ranting about our involvement in trying to help trail develop in Shubie.
The fact that a completely volunteer group should need to justify its existence or defend its accomplishments is a little… no its actually very bizarre. But in the interests of helping develop a homogenous mountain biking community, we’ll bite.
Mountain Bike Halifax (MBH) was formed around 2018, and yes it was originally an advocacy group. Bicycle Nova Scotia (Now Cycle Nova Scotia) is an amazing group of hard-working volunteers. But their mandate is broad. We wanted something narrow focused and specific, mountain biking in HRM.
The slogan we choose was “Provide, Preserve and Protect”, which we felt was general enough to allow us to do whatever we could to help the HRM Mountain Bike community. So we are not sure where the idea that “we were supposed to develop trails in HRM” came from, but it was certainly not from MBH. Maybe the author took the word “Provide” to mean obligated.
I’ll let the reader judge this next comment. “They really have done nothing except a bit at fight trail.”
When we started MBH, we asked ourselves what could we do to help the community. Supporting the development of McIntosh Run was the obvious answer.
We need to be very careful here as we in no way want to imply that we were in any way more important to Mac Run than the hundreds of other volunteers and thousands of hours contributed. But here is the “bit” we did.
We raised over $12,000 which went directly to labour and materials to upgrade the section of trail, including the roller bridge, near flat lake.
Then we raised the funds for the construction of the Run Bridge, which was important to connect the Herring Cove to Spryfield sections of the trail network. We also coordinated the helicopter drop of over 16,000 pounds of lumber used for the Run Bridge and smaller crossings around Duck Pond area. One of our board members was part of the main bridge build team.
As a side comment, we had two small signs on the bridge that mentioned our contribution, but some asshole broke them off.
MBH has produced several promotional videos about MRWA that they have used for various educational and funding purposes. We have also produced a 1 hr documentary on MRWA called Backyard Wilderness, which can be seen on Eastlink.
The last MRWA specific project we undertook was the funding of a rescue litter for Halifax Fire Station 6 in Spryfield. HRM fire has a few rescue litters, but they move from station to station. Now there is one in Spryfield for quick access if a mountain biker needs to be stretchered off the trail.
Then came Covid, which had a substantial impact on, well… everything. As a volunteer group, there was not much to do, but in 2021, MBH, with the support and consultation of HRM Parks and Rec, to write the HRM Mountain Bike Strategy. Reaching out through ECMTB, we formed an amazing team. Thank you again to all those who volunteered their time.
The Strategy an impressive document. With appendices, it is thorough and over 230 pages long! From the time we (MBH) started researching how to even do this, to the time the working team wrote the strategy, and it was proofed, graphically designed, and submitted to HRM Parks and Rec, it took nearly three years! We will have more information on the strategy at the AGM.
That leads us to the development of Shubie Park trail system. This is something that has been discussed in the community for a while. Several years ago MBH actually met with a Dartmouth driven volunteer group who was looking into this. Unfortunately their project stalled. I don’t know why, possibly another casualty of Covid.
Last year, one of the MBH board suggested that we (MBH) approach HRM Parks about taking on single track trail development in Shubie as a project. It was pointed out that through our conversations with Parks and Rec during the writing of the Strategy, that the city would take our proposal seriously. After all, we had, so to speak, put our money where our mouth is. It is precisely this Mountain Bike Halifax initiative that Councillor Mancini referenced when he said, “plans are in motion.”
This project is not a done deal. It is far from it. We do not yet have a formal land agreement with HRM. But conversations have moved along far enough that we have been given the green light to discuss this project with you, the Mountain Biking Community, at our AGM.
Councillor Mancini will be at the AGM to give an overview of what the municipality requires.
This is not a simple project, but MRWA has proven that it can be done. Our first step will be to form a specific Shubie volunteer working group.
If this is something you would like to see happen, then we’ll see you at the AGM.