Hello fellow mountain bikers,
For some time now, Mountain Bike Halifax has been working with the staff of HRM to develop a regional mountain bike strategy.
The need for such a strategy was recognized by HRM city councillor Tony Mancini. Tony was first elected to council in a District byelection several years ago. As Tony became more familiar with, and comfortable in, the role of a councillor, he began to lobby for funding and opportunities for mountain biking related activities, infrastructure and trail development.
What he discovered was that from an HRM standpoint, mountain biking did not exist. There were mechanisms in place to fund transportation, or parks, but nothing to develop what we refer to as mountain bike areas or trails. The simple reason…, HRM did know what mountain biking was, and had no avenue into which to channel funding. If mountain biking was not considered as transportation or did not fit under mandate of parks, they there was no “bucket” into which to channel funds.
Tony made a motion to council that HRM should look at developing its own mountain bike strategy. This concept is nothing new. Regional mountain bike strategies exist in other jurisdictions. Here is a good example.
As a credit to council’s interest and commitment, that motion was unanimously passed.
Tony then facilitated a meeting between Mountain Bike Halifax, HRM Staff and representatives from HRM Parks. The initial meeting laid the framework for what the city required, and a smaller working group was formed.
After several back and forth meetings, MBH proposed a framework or outline to HRM staff. The overall concept and design were approved, but now the time-consuming work had to begin.
HRM’s expectation is for a comprehensive, fact and research-based document. They recognize that they have no understanding or expertise in this area, so they are relying on the community, as experts, to guild this process and write this strategy.
The great news is that we have the mandate to put HRM’s Mountain Bike Strategy in place. How amazing is that! To go from no knowledge to a full blown stagey in just a few short years. Once complete, the HRM Mountain Bike Strategy would act as a guide for the city when planning development. It would become a tool similar to the city’s Centre Plan or Green Plan. The whole idea is extremely exciting.
The reality check, however, is that writing this strategy requires community consultation and input from many stakeholders. Not just cyclists, but other trail users and outdoor enthusiasts as well. It is a big job!
We began that process by forming working relationships with another HRM based community groups. From those meetings we researched hiring a specialist consultant to do the strategy. We quickly learned a few things; consultants are very expensive, funding to engage them is limited and would not cover their costs, and the consultants themselves know nothing about mountain biking so much of their time would go to just understanding the requirements for our sport. Based on that insight, the Mountain Bike Halifax board feels the best way to achieve what HRM requires, it to research and write the strategy ourselves.
As noted, this is a big project, but with a substantial benefit to the mountain biking community. We feel we can provide the city with what they require if we can divide this large project into a series of manageable tasks.
That brings us to our ask today. We are looking for volunteers to work on this project. If we set a target of 12 months, with a team of 6-8, we could probably achieve this with no more that 5-10 hours per person per month.
So, if you are interested in getting involved, and have any project management, writing, research, design, or communications skills, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is tremendous inertia in the regional Mountain Bike community these days. All we need to do is look at MRWA, Minto, Keppoch, Empire Trails, Rail Yard, Shubi Park, and Fundy… to name a few.
If we can get a dedicated group together to write this strategy, we can get another amazing project done!
Oh behalf of
Mountain Bike Halifax Board of Directors