After a couple years of dialogue, IMBA Canada finally had the privilege of working with the Capital Regional District in Sooke, BC, this September. Over the course of two days, I provided a large group of CRD staff from various parks with a rigorous workshop on the fundamentals of sustainable trail design and construction. In classic fashion, lecture time was augmented with field exercises, and this group was given a rather tricky piece of terrain in a soon-to-be opened park in Sooke with which to practice. The class was split into groups and given the task of finding a sustainable route up a reasonably steep side slope which was navigatable by not only hikers and bikers but also horses as well. Debates ensued (a few heated in fact) but at the end of it all the class came to a consensus on which way would be ideal and then set about building a small section for experience. For those who are unfamiliar with the terrain of southern Vancouver Island, it is extremely rocky with huge boulders and bedrock all over the place. Despite this challenge the class built a nice little section and were justifiably proud of their work at days’ end.

The latter half of my visit comprised of assessing some of the trails currently found in this new CRD park. The purpose of this assessment was to determine which trails were sustainably built, and which were cause for alarm as it pertained to risk management issues. While certainly some sections of some of the trails examined were deemed unsustainable and in needed of either closure of redesign, discussion with local builders proved positive. Concepts were bounced around on how to address specific issues and it is IMBA Canada’s hope that these trails can be retooled to provide the ridership with some of the best downhill training opportunities outside of Mt. Washington that southern Vancouver has to offer.