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

File Photo/Black Press
District of Kent to receieve 5G upgrade

Rogers Communications announced the expansion of their network

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

Final numbers won't be known for weeks, but turnout was down across the board in the Fraser Valley and B.C.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Even after thousands of mail-in ballots counted, turnout is likely to fall below 50% in many ridings

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

Contributed Photo/Marina Dunn
Community Camera: October, 22, 2020

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

Most Read