The Village of Cumberland and partners are setting up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for trails in the area.
At a meeting in August, council directed staff to enter into the MOU, Collaborative Management and Use of a Cumberland Trail Network with United Riders of Cumberland (UROC), TimberWest Forest Company (Mosaic) and Comox Timber (Manulife).
The parties entered into a licensing agreement in 2015 that formalized public, non-motorized access to the trail network in Cumberland. About 80 per cent of the trails in the area are on private managed forest land.
“Its intent was really to enable that public access to private lands,” parks and recreation manager Kevin McPhedran told council at the meeting.
The MOU will be a broader agreement for the parties and fill in some of the missing topics or clarify values to be considered in terms of land use, especially around actions like trail planning. UROC would still hold the licence agreement under the MOU. The memorandum will also take into account trail plans across property boundaries, and UROC would still hold licence agreements and is working with the two timber companies on matters of access.
“It would serve as an umbrella agreement and would still formalize that relationship between the three major land owners,” he added.
Members of council were impressed with the work that has happened in recent years at the hands of UROC, particularly in the quality of the trails.
“They’ve created a world-class facility,” Coun. Gwyn Sproule said. “For locals and visitors, it’s a real win.”
Coun. Vickey Brown raised questions about races or events in the MOU, saying these were only listed under permits and licences. She asked whether there needed to be language included in the agreement to cover these events or whether this would be in a side agreement. McPhedran responded that there is a permit policy to manage events for the village, adding the timber companies have their own permitting process.
“UROC has also been increasingly been engaging with event holders, so that they can compensated for the use of the infrastructure that they’re managing,” he added.
McPhedran also said the village policy would be specific for events rather than for trail use.
Following the discussion on event use, Coun. Jesse Ketler brought up a question around sustainability plans for UROC but added she was glad various village agreements will start to align ecological values as part of the MOU.
“We talked about incorporating some more First Nations values like language on signs,” she added. “I hope to see that come back as well.”