Proposed helicopter tour operation for Tatla Lake area – Williams Lake Tribune

A proposed guided helicopter bike tour operation could land southwest of the community of Tatla Lake, pending provincial approval.

A land management plan submitted in late 2020 by Joyride Bike Parks Inc. of Squamish, B.C., and its owner and president, Patrick (Paddy) Kaye, is currently awaiting a decision from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Exploitation of natural resources and rural development. .

The mandate is for a 30-year extensive use license to organize guided helicopter tours on Crown land south of the community of Tatla Lake – between Bella Coola and Williams Lake – located on the eastern slope of the Coast Mountain Range, north of the Homathko River and Tatlayoko Protected Area.

The first phase of the area in question covers approximately 39,500 hectares, which includes approximately 137 kilometers of trails, with a future phase two development area estimated at an additional 19,000 hectares.

Kaye and Joyride Bike Parks Inc. have worked with resorts, municipalities, community organizations, tourism operators and private landowners globally since their inception in 1997 to build bike parks and trails. of Mountain. Kaye noted that the company specializes not only in trail construction, but also in trail construction, risk assessment for trailer builders and international consulting.

Kaye is one of the three original creators of the famous Whistler Mountain Bike Park. He said Black Press Media he moved from Quebec to British Columbia almost 30 years ago.

“I moved here for the mountains and the ski and I had tried my hand at cycling a bit when they were first time around and absolutely fell in love with the sport living here in Whistler,” he said. “Then I got involved in trail building and decided that instead of being thugs we wanted to be legitimate trail builders and that’s when we got permission. to build trails on Whistler Mountain, which was the start of the bike park there.

Users of the area of ​​occupancy for mountain biking would access the area by helicopter, with customers picked up from the staging area at the southern end of Bluff Lake, Kaye said, and then transported to various drop-off points, before returning to the assembly area. region by bike.

Guests would stay at the White Saddle Country Inn, he noted, also located at the southern end of Bluff Lake. The helicopter tours would take place from June 1 to October 15 while waiting for the snow to melt in the spring and the arrival of snow in the fall.

Luke King, a longtime West Chilcotins resident and mountain biker whose family runs the White Saddle Ranch and Country Inn, is said to be handling flights with White Saddle Air Services, based in Tatla Lake.

Kaye said that prior to submitting the proposal to the ministry, the company engaged in extensive discussions with Tsideldel (Redstone) First Nation to ensure their support for the project.

The tenure zone is located in the traditional territories of the Tsideldel First Nation (TFN).

“The goal was and is to have the support of the community,” Kaye said. “And, you know, even job opportunities for the people of Williams Lake and Bella Coola. There are many opportunities for those who are passionate about mountain biking. “

Kaye said the TFN provided written support for the proposal, which was submitted with his application.

“I wanted to make sure I didn’t get into any conflict of some kind and I think we found a really positive relationship and a positive relationship. After talking to some of the landowners as well, the next step was to look at the land, ”he said.

“Once we got in and started walking we found old mine tests that haven’t seen any fingerprints for 50 years – they should be re-equipped for bikes with regards to erosion and weathering. sustainability – but the lines are there and the story is there. It’s like unlocking a puzzle. “

And while the helicopter tours will be marketed to high-end global customers, Kaye said nothing will be off limits to residents of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast.

“It’s all Crown land,” he said. “The trails are accessible to everyone and people will be welcome. The ranches downstairs are privately owned but the mountains are all public land so we’re just hoping to open up some historic trails and put them on a map and I think it would be great for locals to check out, whether by helicopter or do not.”

Kaye said one of his main goals will be to make the local community feel welcome if the proposal becomes a reality.

“These communities will be the first place I go when we hear about it,” he said. “I’m not going to say, ‘This is what’s going to happen.'”

Even with local support, Kaye said he still wasn’t sure if the project would get the go-ahead from the government.

“I would say it’s a 50/50 chance in the hands of the government, the environmental process and all that. It could take six months, six years, or it could never happen. “

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About Jeffrey Wurtsbach

Jeffrey Wurtsbach

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