Ambitious plan in the works for Houston

Group wants Houston to be a mountain biking destination

Skills area idea as part of the proposed Family Riding Hub. (Submitted photo)

The Houston Mountain Bike Association has been working on an ambitious plan that could help boost the local economy, says club president Miake Elliott.

The $84,500 Family Riding Hub, a beginner focused area near the current downhill mountain biking trails on Mount Harry Davis, has been in the works for the past three years, said Elliott.

The project, which still needs about $45,000 to be completed, includes a 2.5-km beginner’s trail (green) that would connect existing riding areas, an access road and parking lot away from the regular traffic on Radio Road, and a skills area. The new lot offers access to a meeting area with seating, signage and an outhouse.

“We knew what our basic vision was three years ago, but now we’ve been able to design the last trail that we need,” said Elliott, adding that some of the components of the project, including the access road, lot and outhouse, have already been completed.

The green trail, which would also provide skilled riders with an up-track and winter users access, accounts for more than half the project’s budget ($53,000) due to trail requirements, Elliott said.

“Green trails are the most expensive trails to build because they have to meet very strict guidelines for safety,” said Elliott, noting their average cost is between $18,000 and $26,000 per kilometre.

The club has been raising funds for over a year for the Family Riding Hub, said Elliott. So far it has secured $5,500 through fundraising activities. The Dungate Community Forest has contributed $10,000, the Bulkley Valley Credit Union has donated $2,500 and Rec Sites and Trails BC has committed $10,000.

Elliott said the club expects to secure the final funding portion next year, with construction of the green trail starting in late 2020 or early 2021.

Completion of the project would not only boost outdoor recreation and the district’s appeal, but it could improve the local economy by attracting thrill-seekers and professionals to live in the area, said Elliott.

Earlier this year, the Houston Mountain Bike Association received $5,000 from the Northern Health Authority to buy mountain bikes for adults, youth and toddlers. They have been loaned out at no charge, thus removing cost as a barrier to participation.

Now three years old, the club has approximately 50 members, including young riders.

— With files from Rod Link

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Map of the proposed Family Riding Hub for Houston. (Submitted image)

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