Nature-enthusiasts who have been awaiting news of the reopening of hiking trails in the Village of Lions Bay will have to bide their time a little longer. Access to these beloved hiking trails and public parking areas of the popular Metro Vancouver destination was initially blocked on August 25 over concerns about wildfires. That initial decision was unanimous among council members.
A later vote, on August 31, saw council members deciding 4-1 to extend the closure through the Labour Day long weekend. Several popular hike starting points lie in the Lions Bay area, including the West Lion, Tunnel Bluffs, Brunswick Mountain, and Centennial Trail.
The possibility of reopening was once again conveyed to the council on Tuesday, but it didn’t garner enough support for approval. In an interview done on Wednesday with CTV News, Lions Bay Mayor Ken Berry voiced his disappointment over the decision.
Mayor Berry remained the only council member who cast his vote in favor of reopening the trails last week. It was he who posed the motion this Tuesday to reopen the trails before the coming Friday.
Mayor Berry recollected how the primary closure was dictated by the alarm surrounding the rampant wildfires plaguing locations such as Kamloops, Kelowna, and the Shuswap. “The decision was a hasty one, meant for review at regular intervals,” he remarked.
This Tuesday, it was both Mayor Berry and one council member who voiced their vote for the trails’ reopening, but the other three council members preferred the opposite. Mayor Berry and Coun. Michael Broughton, the only two votes in favor, believe themselves to be advocates of an open and welcoming community.
Despite the Lions Bay fire chief and other experts proposing the re-opening of trails, based on lesser fire risks due to increased humidity and cooler climate, the motion was overruled. Fire Chief Barrett Germscheid stated that hikers, being more on the ground, were more likely to report fires than causing them. Mayor Berry, confused about the decision, could not comprehend why it contradicted the fire chief’s recommendation.
Mayor Berry found the village of Lions Bay’s stance peculiar, as it stood as a contradiction among other Metro Vancouver and Howe Sound corridor municipalities concerning the closure of trails. “We needed to heed the advice of experts,” was Mayor Berry’s stand, attributing opposing votes to gut reactions possibly.
It will remain uncertain as to when the trails resume operation until at least September 18, which is the next council meeting date. Mayor Berry is resolute in bringing up the matter again then.
In his words, “Lions Bay is an incredibly beautiful area, unparalleled in the Lower Mainland and the coast. Our eagerness to see the trailheads opening again is strong. We believe that both the residents of Lions Bay, along with those from neighboring communities, should have the pleasure of enjoying them.”