Strong community attendance at yesterday’s Ordinary Meeting of Council saw passionate participation in decision-making during the public forum, in relation to a report recommending a pragmatic approach to mountain biking in Wingecarribee Shire’s natural areas. Council Administrator Mr Viv May moved to implement the Officer’s recommendations, subject to obtaining legal advice on liability in relation to use of the unauthorised trails at Mount Gibraltar, and associated risk.
Having personally visited the unauthorised Trails at Mount Gibraltar (the Gib), Mr May cautioned community members; “I would urge any parent whose kids say they’re going mountain bike riding at the Gib, to have a look first.” Council’s General Manager was delegated authority to implement the Officer’s recommendations and declare the motion carried, pending legal advice.
Participating community members commended Council for their approach to the preparation of the report, with some critical amendments called for.
Speaking for the local mountain biking community, Tavish McPherson, who initiated a petition which attracted more than 3,000 signatures in favour of keeping the unauthorised trails at the Gib, said that the growing number of young families living in the Shire has led to a growing demand for MTB in the region including gravity trails. “There are other LGA’s where such trails co-exist with conservation,” Tavish said.
Adam Cooper of Highlands Trails, responsible for stewardship of the extensive MTB trails on community land at Welby within Mountain Alexandra Reserve said, “My hope is that the kids can work together with other stakeholders for the common good of the area,” empathising with Bushcare and Landcare groups whose tireless work has been damaged by the unauthorised trails. A statement from local MTB rider Michelle Warner called for the banning of unauthorised tracks and objected to potential costs associated with allowing illegal activities to continue.
Representative of the Shire’s voice for environment and conservation included Landcare volunteer Jane Lemman who said the report fails to address the illegal nature of these trails and called for their deconstruction. Gaye White from WIN ZERO agreed that swift action is appropriate. “Everyone must go through the same processes to foster collaboration and ensure that development of any trails aligns with the community’s overall vision for outdoor recreation in our natural areas.”
One resident of Mount Gibraltar raised concerns about the impact on a sensitive environment, while another whose family enjoy a variety of recreational activities in the reserve, said it’s about sharing use of the natural areas.
All input was given due consideration in Council Administrator Mr Viv May’s decision in relation to the report and next steps.
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