The days of free hiking and biking at Bear Mountain will soon be over.
At least for non-mountain residents.
That’s because Ecoasis Developments, the land developer of the property, will be implementing a new “trail network” program, requiring non-Bear Mountain residents to pay fees for hiking and mountain bike trail access.
“We are experiencing a growing number of hikers and cyclists on our property including our golf courses and cart paths, which has raised serious safety and liability issues along with increased costs,” Dan Matthews, the company’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
“This is a land management issue of our private property. In order to achieve the safe enjoyment of our amenities we are planning to implement a well-managed, structured trail network program.”
In addition to fees, the trail network program will also restrict access to certain trails, which has some non-residents upset.
“I’m not a big fan of fees. I don’t think this particular trail is … overused, so yeah, not a big fan,” said hiker and non-Bear Mountain resident, Patricia Lavelle.
It’s not just non-residents raising concerns — even some living on the mountain feel the fees could give off the impression of a non-inclusive environment.
“One of the main aspects of being at Bear Mountain is you do have a community but you also have groups of people that come and enjoy the vicinity and help the hotel and coffee shop,” said resident Susan Presho. “So, it helps the whole community be more united.”
Bailey Avenno, a longtime member of the Greater Victoria mountain bike community, said charging for access would result in most bikers finding somewhere free to ride.
“I think they’re on the fast track to obscurity on those trails. Mountain bikers aren’t country clubbers, they’re more likely to try and find a new trail to ride anywhere and here for free.” said Avenno. “I can understand why they want to have some compensation for potential liability and maintenance costs. I just think there’s better ways to go about it.”
The cost of admission, or how it will be enforced, has yet to be announced.
The hotels and other businesses on Bear Mountain are not associated with this decision.