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Morning Mountain to be made into one of regional district’s newest parks

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
February 8th, 2016

The sun is set to rise on Morning Mountain as one of the region’s favourite recreation destinations will become one of the regional district’s newest parks.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board of directors supported a move at its January meeting to include Morning Mountain as a regional park.

The park will formally be established by becoming part of the RDCK Park Regulation and will become a recreation area inside the Nelson, Salmo, Electoral Areas E, F and G Park Service, said Area E director Ramona Faust.

The site is a well established and intensively used recreation area located four kilometres west of the city, with mountain biking forming a primary aspect of the landscape — all managed by the Nelson Cycling Club.

“I don’t believe there will be a substantial change in the operation or management of the recreation area,” said Faust, “and secure financial support will retain the quality of improvements that have been made and will signify to our partners that we value their contributions to the area.”

Currently, Morning Mountain is a regional recreation area managed under a license of occupation with the province. It has a similar licensing arrangement to when it was a ski hill.   

However, Morning Mountain is not yet an RDCK regional park until it is recommended by the Nelson, Salmo, and Electoral Areas E, F and G Regional Parks Commission, and resolved by the RDCK board to establish it as such.

Further, the parks commission may consider inclusion of Morning Mountain as a multiple purpose park in the RDCK Official Regional Parks Plan.

Part of the management priorities set out in the plan include preparing a stewardship agreement between the RDCK and the Nelson Cycling Club for the continued use and development of the facility.

Any other changes to Morning Mountain will be considered in consultation with the public, said Sangita Sudan, RDCK general manager of development services.

“We are also going to be doing a wildfire treatment in the area this spring,” she said.

 The intention has always been to bring Morning Mountain into the regional park bylaw, said Sudan.

“The RDCK completed a purpose and operation statement in 2011 in preparation for this change,” she said.

The recreation area service was established and supported by Areas E and F to administer a ski area, and maintenance has been funded by insurance funds from the old ski lodge fire, said Faust.

The funds from the insurance have been utilized for maintenance and upgrades at Morning Mountain, as well as contributing to the purchase of the Taghum Beach Park extension. That funding source has since been depleted.

“It is time to recognize that Morning Mountain requires stable funding and is used regionally,” said Faust.

As part of the Nelson, Salmo, Areas E, F and G Park Service the maintenance costs of $21,000 per year for the park will be shared between the residents of the five communities, along with the cost of existing parks in the service.

The cost of the park in the past last year was $10,000. This year, depending on assessment, Nelson’s portion will be approximately $5,150.

“Just as the broader region enjoys Lakeside Park, the soccer fields, and the Civic Centre, so do we enjoy Morning Mountain. It’s an important part of our parks and recreation infrastructure,” said Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak.

“The Morning Mountain area will have a management plan developed and, as the area will become increasingly popular due to increased press and word of mouth, we expect there will be increased need for minimum signage and monitoring,” Faust addeed.

A look back

Prior to its use as a public recreation area, Morning Mountain was operated as a small, local ski hill. The ski hill began operations in 1974 with the installation of a small T-bar lift.

The Blewett Recreation Society successfully operated the lift until the lack of snow and deteriorating financial position led to its closure after the 1996/97 ski season.

In 1999 the lodge was completely destroyed by fire. Given the changing climate and volunteer fatigue, the community made the decision to accept the insurance payout for the facility — not rebuild the ski lodge — and to cease operations of the hill.

Public recreational interests in the facility began to change in the early 1990s when local mountain bikers began constructing unauthorized trails in the area. The facility and the adjacent Crown lands are now home to over 50 kilometres of multi-use trails.

Source: Morning Mountain Purpose and Operations Statement

CBT cash increase

The city of Nelson will have more dollars to distribute to the community from the CBT this year.

The Columbia Basin Trust announced it is increasing funding to the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas programs, and Nelson’s allocation has jumped by almost $30,000.

This year the city will receive an increase of 15 per cent over its current allocation, rising from $133,100 to $153,065. The new amount — the largest community allocation of all areas the CBT serves — will remain in effect until 2020/2021.

The amount includes administration, which can be charged to a maximum of five per cent.

The new amount will form the baseline level of funding moving forward, said CBT president and CEO, Neil Muth.

“This new approach replaces our population-based model and will provide stability and predictability for the community projects,” he said.

The Community Initiatives and Affected Areas programs are the CBT’s longest running programs.

In total, the Affected Areas program rises from $940,117 to $1,081,134, while the Community Initiatives goes from $352,242 to $405,078.

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