“The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games (CSG) is building a brand-new mountain bike racecourse, which is resulting in significant environmental destruction of the Twelve Mile Creek woodland and watershed. ….This new mountain bike racecourse and playground trails are being developed right now and built without any oversight of environmental authorities.” – Friends of Twelve Mile Creek
A Message and a Petition for You to Consider Signing from Friends of Twelve Mile Creek, a citizens-based group in Niagara, Ontario
Posted October 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
The Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games (CSG) is building a brand-new mountain bike racecourse, which is resulting in significant environmental destruction of the Twelve Mile Creek woodland and watershed.
The contractor, the Niagara Trail Maintenance Association (NTMA), has been executing the CSG mission for this new mountain bike “racecourse” since the beginning of August 2021. This Twelve Mile Creek watershed of forest, natural vegetation, creeks, valleys, wetlands, steep hills, ridges, and wildlife habitats are being cut, removed, excavated, dug, disrupted, and permanently altered.
The surrounding Niagara community are extremely disturbed and believe this mountain bike racecourse is totally inappropriate to be built in a fragile ecosystem, on already erosion prone ravine slopes, and adjacent to residential property lines.
Since the initial game bid in 2016, the mountain bike course was to be prepared using existing mountain bike trails on Brock University lands where there is suitable sport infrastructure, facilities, parking, and decades precedent of mountain biking riding.
The terrain and existing trails of Brock University lands were the ideal location for the mountain bike course and competition. We are strong supporters of the CSG, and of the original bid location, or a viable alternative racecourse, but not the recent change of venue that will destroy one of the last natural and undisturbed greenbelt areas of St. Catharines.
This new mountain bike racecourse and playground trails are being developed right now and built without any oversight of environmental authorities, or the City of St. Catharines. Similarly, there is no oversight by the landowner (Ontario Power Generation), nor cycling stakeholders such as the cycling community of Niagara, Cycling Canada or Ontario Cycling Association. In other words, there is no formal supervision of any kind.
The CSG and Ontario Power Generation have misled the community regarding the construction of this new mountain bike racecourse. The CSG chair, Doug Hamilton stated in a minimally distributed letter that there would be “upgrades of safety and other minor improvements to the trail system”. Ontario Power Generation stated in response to our community concerns that “the games are permitted to make improvements to existing trails to improve safety for cyclists and recreational users.”
The current reality is that the NTMA, contracted and funded by the CSG, is continuing their mission unabated, excavating the ravine, cutting vegetation, building bridges, shovelling out berms and building up embankments to create a brand-new racecourse.
If the build continues, inevitably, this natural ravine will be destroyed. Additional mountain bike playground trails are likely to be continually cut into previously untouched ravine areas.
The steep slopes of the Twelve Mile Creek ravine are fragile, covered in dense vegetation and mature forest, forming an important wildlife habitat. In addition, these ravine slopes have a history of instability with slope degradation and collapse.
This new trail development is not necessary and poses a very real threat to the environment and to residents of the areas bordering the Twelve Mile Creek. If this destruction is not stopped now, it will be too late.
We are community members, residents, athletes, sporting enthusiasts, experts and scholars, and we support the CSG as being good for Niagara overall. However, we are passionately opposed to the destruction of the Twelve Mile Creek woodland and watershed. We are opposed to the repurposing of this natural area for mountain bike racing.
Alternative action is possible, but we must act now! There is still a viable alternative to the current destruction happening in Twelve Mile Creek ravine.
There are multiple trail networks in Niagara that have decades of mountain biking history and a precedent of riding, racing and coexisting with other trail users. Therefore, the mountain bike racecourse for the CSG and its legacy need not be destructive to the environment, wildlife habitat and the well being of the local community. There is a better way.
Time to “Change Course” and do the right thing; protect our environment and have a proper strategic and sustainable legacy plan that will allow for an all-inclusive cycling for life practice to the Niagara residents and visitors.
To visit this petition online for the purposes of signing it, click on – https://chng.it/kmkfpV95Jy
To watch a video circulated by Friends of Twelve Mile Creek about the ecosystem in question, click on the screen immediately below –
About Friends of 12 Mile Creek – It began as a small group of local residents working together trying to respond to and understand the rationale for the location change for the mountain bike course for the 2022 Niagara Canada Summer Games. This change of location was to 12 Mile Creek, and much of our community backed onto where the new course was to be built. This learning process served as a catalyst to the importance of the 12 Mile Creek biodiversity and of helping to preserve the cultural and environmental integrity of the area. It prompted us to get actively involved and organized so as to ensure that the character and lifestyle of this unique natural setting would be protected and nurtured instead of being exploited and destroyed.
Here are the first few paragraphs of an open letter from Niagara resident and former Olympic champion medalist Steve Bauer in opposition to this plan for a mountain bike racecourse long the slopes of Twelve Mile Creek –
October 5, 2021 – “To the community at large, across Niagara Cycling is my life. I enjoy mountain bike riding. I enjoy mountain bike trail riding on Twelve Mile Creek on existing trails.
“However, I cannot accept what the cost will be to the Twelve Mile Creek environment to obtain a new racecourse and expand the trails through a specific area of previously undeveloped ravine, which is currently undergoing serious trail development. I cannot accept that this new racecourse for the 2022 Niagara Canada Summer Games (CSG) is OK. It is not ok.
“As a lifelong cyclist, I am opposed. I am opposed because I now intimately understand what has happened and the need to highlight that there are acceptable alternatives to the CSG mountain bike racecourse that will allow the athletes to compete on a challenging elite course, without destroying the surrounding environment.
“I believe that the Canada Summer Games and Ontario Power Generation are blatantly ignoring the environmental cost of what they believe is acceptable to the Niagara community at large.”
The full open letter is quite lengthy and Niagara At Large is considering posting all of it at a later date.
Steve Bauer is a retired professional road bicycle racer from Niagara who makes his home in St. Catharines. He is currently a sport director on the professional road cycling World Tour. He was the winner of the first Olympic medal in road cycling for Canada in 1984 followed by a successful professional career over 12 years. He has spent his life devoted to cycling
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