Making Tracks: It’s the Perfect Time for Outdoor Recreation | Life

Spring is absolutely the best time of year in the Okanagan for so many reasons: lots of sunshine, rolling green hills, lush flowers in every meadow, and few to no wildfires.

On average, June is the wettest month with 44 millimeters (1.7 inches) of precipitation, but online sources say the average is just six days with rain and the temperature hovers around 24 May, by comparison, is 20 C with six rainy days while July is 28 C with five rainy days.

June is therefore the best time for outdoor recreation before it gets hot (and possibly unbearably hot, thanks to a heated dome).

Sheriff and constant companion Carmen took advantage of these conditions by biking all over the south to north Okanagan, trying to fit in as many excursions as possible while Okanagan sunflowers, bushes and orchards of Saskatoon are blooming, from the Naramata Banks to the hills of East Kelowna. to viewpoints at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.

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Volunteers have been busy this spring.

Ryan McKenna of Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan (MTBCO) recently organized a Hillbilly Trail maintenance project in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.

Hillbilly was adopted by the club through the FOSS Adopt-a-Trail scheme.

Friends of South Slopes volunteers Alan Milnes and Eric Chamberland brought the UTVs, brushes and FOSS gear, working alongside MTBCO volunteers Edith, Jesse, Cam, Sean, Andrew, Mae, Mitchell, Bill and Ryan. “They all worked hard,” Milnes said on the FOSS Facebook page.

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The numbers finally came in for Vernon after the sheriff found Kelowna had more than 300 kilometers of bike lanes and more than 60 kilometers of separate lanes, the most extensive bike network in Canada for a city its size.

Christy Poirier, communications manager for the City of Vernon, reports the following: multi-use path/bicycle path, 30.7 km; road cycle path, 68 km; cycle path/shoulder, 55.6 km; and unpaved trail, six km.

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Parks Canada has decided that pedal-assist e-bikes (Class 1) are only allowed on designated trails, but you should check each national park’s website to find out which trails are designated.

For example, the Banff National Park webpage states that e-bikes are only permitted on 12 trails in Banff and three in Lake Louise. “Offenders may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act: maximum penalty of $25,000.”

“A pedal-assist e-bike, as defined by Parks Canada, must generate no more than 500W, provide electric assistance only when the e-bike is pedaling, and stop when the speed reaches 32 km/ h,” explains Claudia Crepeault of Parks Canada. . “This definition aligns with Class 1 e-bikes under the 3-class e-bike designation system that is commonly used by the bike industry and has been adopted in most European countries and states. Americans.”

Parks Canada used the National Parks Highway Traffic Regulations and Transport Canada regulations that consider electric-assisted bicycles to be non-motorized vehicles, she said.

“Pedal-assist e-bikes also provide greater accessibility for people who might not otherwise be able to experience Parks Canada administered places,” she said.

“As per Parks Canada guidelines, e-bikes with throttles or throttles and e-scooters that can provide power assistance when the user is not pedaling are prohibited on the trails as they are not pedal-assist e-bikes, but they can be used on roads in national parks,” she says.

Between 2019 and 2022, Parks Canada recorded 21 “incidents” involving electric bicycles and 397 for regular bicycles. It issued 10 warnings for e-bikes, 266 for regular bikes. It issued 0 tickets for e-bikes and 72 for regular bikes. The number of warnings and tickets for ordinary bikes is not necessarily related to cycling, she said.

“Guidelines for pedal-assist e-bikes were introduced in 2019. Most of the warnings relate to riding an e-bike on non-cycling paths or on paths where e-bikes are prohibited. Electric bikes were also involved in four accidents between 2019 and 2022, either related to speeding, collisions or falls. It should also be noted that none of the incidents compiled specified the class of e-bikes.

This week, the North Okanagan Regional District changed its regulations to allow Class 2 (throttle-assisted) e-bikes on its portion of the Okanagan Rail Trail. Class 1 bicycles with pedal assistance were already allowed.

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The sheriff always saw a potential conflict of interest when Recreation Sites and Trails BC was under the control of the Department of Forests.

Which took precedence: outdoor recreation or wood harvesting?

Fortunately, RSTBC has now been transferred to the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Remember that the ministry (and RSTBC) has allowed forestry companies to use 12 sections of the Trans Canada Trail that have been donated to the province for non-motorized use.

“This means that the Ministry of the Environment will be responsible for the two provincial recreation agencies: RSTBC and BC Parks (which has a dual conservation and recreation mandate),” explains Louise Peterson, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC.

“Having the two agencies under one roof and one minister could bode very well for effective and efficient coordination of outdoor recreation in British Columbia, and that an ambitious vision and strategy can be developed that allow all British Columbians to have quality recreation opportunities while safeguarding the integrity of British Columbia’s natural spaces.

Friends of the South Slopes works with BC Parks (in Myra-Bellevue and Okanagan Mountain provincial parks) and Recreation Sites and Trails BC (trails on Crown land like KVR). “Having them run under one ministry should be a positive step,” says the FOSS Facebook page.

JP Squire, aka the Sheriff of Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding, is a retired journalist. Email: [email protected]