Volunteer Tyson Laroche, 13, works with Penny Deck from the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association at the Chilliwack Community Forest on Aug. 12, 2020. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Trailbuilding together at Chilliwack Community Forest

Groups come together to create a new mountain biking space at popular trail system

Many hands may make light work, but there is nothing easy about trailbuilding.

It’s dirty, sweaty work. It can even be a little bit dangerous.

So, when more than two dozen people recently showed up at the Chilliwack Community Forest to blaze a new trail through the dense vegetation, there were big, grateful smiles all around. The group included trailbuilding organizers, project partners, student workers, volunteers, and even a film crew.

The trail being built at the eastern hillside park is a new skills area for mountain bikers of all levels, explains Penny Deck, operations manager for the Fraser Valley Mountain Biking Association. She was among the leaders, working to mark out the new trail with flagging tape, and helping the workers cut away at ferns, hack away at fallen trees and otherwise clear the way for the trail.

It’s backbreaking work, but rewarding, Deck says. And she’s been working with the youth all over the park this summer to keep the trails maintained.

One of the workers is 17-year-old Lloyd Laroche. He started working on trailbuilding two years ago as a student at the Education Centre. When he was approached by the Chilliwack Park Society’s director, Marc Greidanus, to join the Summer Trail Crew, he jumped at the chance.

“I volunteered here when it was still being built,” Laroche says, watching in amazement as the parking lot filled with more and more people coming out to help. While Laroche and the rest of the hired crew are out there every day, the volunteers have come from Memiyelhtel, a youth program through Stó:lō. That group is working on trails once a week throughout August, and on this day, they’ve come ready to work hard.

One of them is Laroche’s 13-year-old brother, Tyson, who spent much of the afternoon working on clearing the top entrance to the skills area. It’s accessible from the parking lot, close to the bike repair station. Then it carries up and down through the forest before returning riders back out to the parking area.

They break into two groups, meeting in the middle after about an hour of heavy work. It will take a few more work bees to get the trail in shape for bikers. But there are plenty of other places to ride at Chilliwack Community Park, and bikes were brought up for the volunteers to try out. For some youth, it was their first time on a downhill bike.

All of this adds up to showcase the “million strengths” of what’s been happening at the park, says Andrea Dykshoorn, a United Way Community Engagement Specialist. She was looped into the program through connections made in another United Way program, and learned of how the Chilliwack Community Forest came to be.

United Way looks at strengths in a community, she said, and hit pay dirt with the trailbuilding program. Not only is the program creating valuable infrastructure for the community, but it’s lifting vulnerable youth, partnering them with organizations focused on healthy activities, and even bringing in community elders.

And the timing, in the midst of a health pandemic that has kept people isolated and indoors more, couldn’t be more perfect. Dykshoorn excels at grant writing and was able to secure extra funding for the Summer Trail Crew’s work.

“People are lonely and isolated,” she says, adding that loneliness was a serious public health concern even before COVID-19 altered lives. The grant is for overdose prevention, but some funding also came from the Canada Summer Jobs Grant.

Greidanus said the partnership with United Way has allowed the Chilliwack Park Society and the FVMBA to really focus on the trail work rather than paper work.

But for Dykshoorn, getting away from the desk and out onto the trails with the work crews has also been a fun experience.

“I’m learning so much from these kids,” she said.

READ MORE: World class potential seen in Chilliwack hillside trails

READ MORE: New Chilliwack park on the hillsides features trees draped in moss


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Community

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A group gathered to create a new trail at Chilliwack Community Forest listens to Andrea Dykshoorn from the United Way prior to starting, on Aug. 12, 2020. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Volunteers from Memiyelhtel, a Stó:lō youth program, joined the Chilliwack Park Society Summer Trails Crew on Aug. 12, 2020. The group worked on a new riding area for mountain bikers at the Chilliwack Community Forest. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Volunteers from Memiyelhtel, a Stó:lō youth program, joined the Chilliwack Park Society Summer Trails Crew on Aug. 12, 2020. The group worked on a new riding area for mountain bikers at the Chilliwack Community Forest. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Falling tree claims life in Langley

Victim was reportedly out for a walk on a rural road

Abbotsford school district was only one in region to ask for cohort expansion

District had most-crowded Grade 4-7 classrooms in the province last year

New plan for industrial growth should still include western farmland, Abbotsford mayor says

Province denied city’s 2018 request to exclude lands from the Agriculture Land Reserve

Sunny skies ahead for Fraser Valley this week

Rain and smoke nowhere in the forecast after weeks of weather alerts

Submissions accepted for Anonymous Art Show

Online exhibit hosted by Abbotsford Arts Council in November

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read