Racing and Passive Recreation

We know that the permit was ultimately approved as a “passive recreational use”.  We believe that is not supportable in view of the significant development that the racecourse construction requires, and the type of impacts that racing entails.

We did not find in the Freedom of Information (FOI) materials indications of any discussion or comment regarding the actual USE of this racecourse, or about how an active high-intensity competitive racing event that is in wet urban ravine slopes full of unique plants and wildlife, can possibly qualify under NPCA regulations.

At the November 19, 2021 NPCA Board meeting, a senior NPCA staff person stated:

“Our policies do not define trails with our policies themselves.  There is some indication of examples of what those trails may be and bike trails is within those examples within our policies and when we’re looking at the policies and whether trails would be supported in the valley system, we are looking at the scope of work, the scale of the work and assessing the impacts of the work and as I noted our staff did work with the applicant to obtain all of the information that we felt was required”.

This NPCA staff person references “bike trails”, however, those are not the same thing as a national level mountain bike racecourse.  NPCA Board Members, in general, did not appear to be prepared for our part of the meeting, despite being provided with videos and briefing notes in advance.  As a consequence they were heavily influenced by commentary provided by the  staff person.  They did not seem to grasp what we were trying to emphasize, nor did some think our concerns were serious, as evidenced by a comment made by one Board Member: “I think it is a good thing to have more trails, as it gets people outside and active.”

After the Board meeting, we provided NPCA with a letter indicating in great detail our reasons why a racecourse is so different. This letter was distributed to all Board Members as well, yet we did not receive one response.  We believe that this letter provides compelling reasons why the designation of “passive recreation use” for the racecourse is such a misguided, irrational decision, and that the permit should not have been issued as such. 

Steve Bauer was present at the Board meeting (video-conference) and here is a brief exchange from that meeting:

Board Member:
I look at a trail as a passive walking trail, kind of maybe cycling, kind of thing that doesn’t go afar and I know that where I live on Lake Gibson there are kids not far from me on OPG property that are using their motorcycles driving through the bush and you can see the disruption it creates for a lot of wildlife.  Could you talk a bit about the difference between these two and how you define it as a professional”.

Steve Bauer:
“Well, you can surmise that a racetrack is conducive to high speeds and higher skilled participants of racing so therefore the groundwork would be more substantial, for example, the NTMA are building up and carving out berms, you know bankings in the soil and they were being sloped to be conducive for traction and speed so you can imagine a ramp or a berm that holds the traction of the of a rider.  The excavation that’s going on in the ravine is to level a steep slope so the carving out of the soil to make sure the passage of a racer or even to build a trail, the excavation of these two out and back tracks to this ravine is being carved out of the slope to allow passage, so even now it is difficult to walk, its so muddy and slippery.  But you know with further work they will just carve it out so that it is conducive to passage, even walking, so you can imagine for racing and allowing for the speed, this is a substantial cut, substantial widening of the vegetation to allow passage.  Its not minor improvements of an existing trail system.  This is a complete new build; you called it a trail but it is a racecourse. That is the goal.  It’s the Canada Summer Games so they are building a racecourse”.

In our opinion the scope, scale and impacts of this racecourse disqualify it for permit approval as “passive recreation use”..

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