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Outdoor recreation proposal offers leadership on Abbotsford trails

The project would support outdoor recreation while preserving the environment
Abbotsford Tech District is spearheading an effort to support trails on Sumas Mountain, with a focus on conservation, recreation and wildlife preservation.

Abbotsford Tech District (ATD) is spearheading a cornerstone effort to support trails on Sumas Mountain, with a focus on conservation, recreation and the preservation of wildlife habitats.

For the city to progress, people need to look beyond the misconception of inherent conflicts between trails, development, and conservation efforts, says Gavin Dew, Chief Strategy Officer at ATD.

Striking a balance between conserving habitat corridors and facilitating recreational activities will require a multi-step approach, including elevated pedestrian walkways between developable areas, to deter human intrusion into vital wildlife habitats. “Conservationists point out that when people interact with wild animals, it generally doesn’t generally end well,” Dew says. “That really stuck with us and informed our approach.”

Emphasizing the importance of providing people with opportunities to observe and engage with nature without disrupting delicate ecosystems, Dew highlights the Malahat Skywalk on Vancouver Island as a perfect example, praising its elevated skywalks that traverse pristine natural areas. “It’s a lovely place to take your kids, and a really successful tourism anchor” he says, underlining the interpretive content and ecological sensitivity of the infrastructure.

Integral to the ATD’s vision is the intersection of conservation and recreation. The Tech District plans to enhance facilities for bikers, runners and walkers, aligning with the city’s commitment to outdoor recreation.

“Maybe it makes sense for a runout section of a trail to go through a developed area and pass by a bike-friendly pub. If you’re coming off the trails and you want to stop and get a coffee or a pint with your friends, there’s a good chance you’re covered in mud,” Dew says. “Having a unique and inviting coffee shop or pub that is clearly aligned with the outdoor recreation community and is welcoming to the fact that people are getting out there and enjoying the environment becomes a great built-in market for a business, all while creating a strong community.”

The initiative also emphasizes wildlife habitat and corridor protection. By preserving green spaces as wildlife corridors and implementing elevated walkways, negative interactions between humans and animals will be minimized, fostering harmony between urban development and natural ecosystems.

In addition to conservation efforts, the trail system aims to boost eco-tourism by creating iconic local and regional tourism amenities. The integration of new summit trails and the creation of viewpoints on and around McKee Peak will provide visitors with opportunities to appreciate Abbotsford’s natural beauty while respecting its ecological integrity.

“In order for the Tech District to work for all of Abbotsford, we know we need to get it right on habitat and trails,” says Dew. “So we are stepping up and taking leadership with a vision that we hope will inspire a broader conversation around how to make the most of our beautiful natural surroundings.”

To ask questions or start a conversation directly, Abbotsford residents are encouraged to follow the development project online at To learn more about the trails concept, they can visit