Mountain bikers in Squamish will have access to the Cheema Land trails, at least for now.

Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA) President Jeff Cooke says they have reached an agreement with landowner Bob Cheema to allow the public to access the trails on his land for the time being.

This week contractors began fencing off access points to trails on Cheema’s 480 acre property at the end of Perth Drive. Cheema told Mountain FM that certain Councillors are dead set against him developing a portion of his land to create a Mountain Bike Community. The landowner has said on several occasions that he would restrict access to the public if Council increases the population cap in the new Official Community Plan (OCP), which would mean he could not develop until the population reaches that number.

Cooke has been actively campaigning to keep access to the more than twenty trails on the land, by writing letters to Squamish Council and by discussion options with Cheema in order to maintain public access. He believes Cheema’s desire to build a mountain bike community hub would be positive for the community and for mountain biking in the region; “When you think about it there’s very few parcels of land that we ride on, that are protected from forestry activity and, other than Alice Lake there’s really not that many that are secured from development or forestry activity” says Cooke. If the land were to be partially developed as a bike hub, he believes trails would be saved; “…it’ll save about 80% of the trails we have in there and be a great asset.”

Cheema says he needs to block access to his land because his insurance runs out in March and that it’s a safety issue. However Cooke believes dialogue can continue in order to prevent the public from losing access; “If we can keep working with him to move the process forward, then I think he’s, he’s been very receptive to that and he’s gonna give us a lot of concessions.”

The landowner has allowed trails on the 480 acre property for 15 years, as he had been unable to build until the population reached 22,500. The 2040 Official Community Plan (currently in draft form) has a raised population cap on land outside the Growth Management Boundary (GMB) of 34,000, or when 75% of development potential has been reached in existing neighbourhoods.

Mayor Patricia Henitzman says they have been engaged with Cheema for sometime, and that the new 2040 OCP has still not yet been finalized.

Organizer of the new Sp’akw’us 50 bike race, Dwayne Kress is already making contingency plans to make sure his race this summer is not affected by any trail restrictions. Kress plans to build a trail around the Cheema land to join trails on either side of the 480 acres.

For now, Bob Cheema will keep the newly installed gate on Perth Drive unlocked.

You can listen to an interview with SORCA President Jeff Cooke here.


Filed under: District of Squamish, Mountain bike, Sea to Sky, SORCA, Spakwus 50, Squamish