Bear Mountain to start charging $45/day trail fee to non-residents

Bear Mountain to start charging $45/day trail fee to non-residents

The days of free hiking and biking at Bear Mountain are over for people who don’t live there. Starting Thursday, non-residents of Bear Mountain will have to pay $45 to use the trails.

“I sympathize with those who have made this a part of their routine,” said Dan Matthews, president and CEO of EcoOasis, which owns the Activity Centre.

“The world of insurance has changed dramatically since COVID, and we’re simply following best practices that have been required of us by our insurance company.”

EcoOasis owns the extensive volunteer-built bike trails and roughly 50 metres of land connecting to Goldstream Provincial Park, the midway access point to get up Mount Finlayson.

Free for Bear Mountain residents, the $45 fee will go toward a day pass to access the Bear Mountain Activity Centre’s gyms, pool, restaurant, and now trails. Currently, there is no option to pay for just trail access.

EcoOasis announced the decision to charge admission in June of 2021. They say the move will ensure trail users sign a waiver to mitigate their own legal risk. It also sees it as a possibility to recruit new residents.

“If they get to experience the activity centre, the trails, and the whole Bear Mountain experience. Maybe they’re playing tennis, that might convert them into becoming a resident.”

Longtime Langford resident Tony Litke says it’s a cash grab that will actually work against the residents of Bear Mountain.

“I think $45 is a bit steep for people who want to hike Mount Finlayson,” said Litke, a mountain biker and hiker that used to use Bear Mountain trails often.

“All they’re going to do is push people away to free trails, and I think that given most of those trails are community maintained, they’re just going to find that the trails are going to be in a state of disarray for the residents they’re trying to promote it for.”

Litke does say that Bear Mountain has become less in demand for bikers due to Langford Gravity Zone opening, however, he still believes the changes will push more people to the Trans-Canada Highway near Goldstream.

Eco Oasis says it wants people looking for a free hike to consider other options.

“There are access points to the same property at different locations that private property trespass is not required,” said Matthews.

He says while this fee program could change, they’re unwilling to put in parking fees as a way to charge for trail access.

“We’ve always been against a parking fee,” said Matthews.

The charge for trail access begins June 1. Matthews says Bear Mountain golf marshalls will be enforcing that both day and resident wristbands will be worn.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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