"Go where you're wanted"

That’s what a good friend of mine said to me when discussing the state of mountain bike advocacy organizations across Canada. The core idea is to focus on working where you can apply maximum value. For IMBA Canada, this means working with associations that are in position to benefit from the expertise that we can bring to the table, and to further develop our offering to be more effective to a wider audience.

Key to this are relationships. Understanding where to dedicate resources requires an idea of what is happening in each community currently. Where are the biggest successes, where are the biggest challenges? What kind of stories do advocates from all across Canada need to hear? The answers to these questions come from the conversations that we have from advocates across Canada.

Looking back on 2018, many of our best moments have roots in these relationships. Our presentation to the Union of BC Municipalities in the spring brought together two MTB club presidents and the founder of the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program to speak to the importance of municipal investment to trails. Together, we made a large impact. Alone, we may not have been as successful.

The Western Canada Mountain Bike Advocacy Symposium is another great example of relationships at play. IMBA Canada staff, alongside the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, hosted a conference that featured powerful dialogue from voices that are under-represented in the outdoors. We were successful because we were able to open space for others to share their stories.

Of course, there’s also the Trail Solutions, Trail Care Crew, and Trail Partner programming. 2018 saw us facilitate 3500 hours of trail work, resulting in 5.5km of trail constructed, in addition to almost 10km of assessed trail. The over 200 people trained in sustainable trail construction and almost 240 in design and layout were reached because of connections with local stakeholders. Those connections are built slowly over time, and manifest when both sides are genuine in their participation.

Thanks to the support of all our partners and sponsors, the momentum that IMBA Canada gained during 2018 was immense. IMBA Staff had positive engagements all across Canada reaching a diverse audience, leading to creative solutions to common advocacy problems. I couldn’t be happier with where we’ve been, and where we’re going in 2019.

Looking forward, we will continue to build on the relationships we’ve been carefully cultivating. This means building out the council program so that we have a direct line to club presidents across Canada, ensuring quicker access to necessary resources. It also means more direct engagement with our educational programs, the Trail Care Crew, Trail Solutions, and the Land Manager Training program. We’ve re-engaged with those applications that were not successful last year, and are now accepting public applications.

We look forward to another great year of mountain bike advocacy in Canada. If you’re wondering what we’re up to, or how we can help your community build a stronger network of mountain bike trails, sign up for our newsletter, give us a follow on social media, or send us a message.

Cheers, AJ