Lack of transparency over DNV $750,000 federal grant project
I had first approached the couple local print newspapers to pursue an investigative look into why there was all the secrecy around this project. They didn't bite. Nothing has come of it. To date, nobody seems to know anything, and the District officials aren’t telling.
The District of North Vancouver, BC Canada is being mum about how a $750,000 federal "economic stimulus" grant is being spent on Fromme Mountain, right now. The District even happens to be keeping the mountain bikers, whom they usually work very closely with, out of the loop about what is actually going on inside the forest. Any plan passed “in principle” by a mayor and council usually leaves a plan wide open to changes "at the discretion" of the municipal project managers, as this Fromme Alpine Recreational Plan was.
There is nothing that can be easily be found on the District’s website about this so-called "economic stimulus" project being undertaken -- but I have found out that the $750,000 grant issued to DNV will be given only if the project(s) are completed by March 2011. I did happen to search and found some information from the DNV Parks and Natural Environment Advisory Committee, January 2010 minutes, which states:
"Mr. (Richard) Boulton provided an update on the grant funding for the Fromme Mountain Trail Project. The Federal Grant totals $750,000 and is intended to provide economic stimulus. The grant comes with the condition that the project is completed by March, 2011. In addition to trail repairs, improved signage will be installed. The District is in the process of hiring crews for this project."
Next to the Fromme forest stands a large, unmarked bin that alerts any curious person to the fact something is going on inside there. Trees inside there have been "flagged" and some have been cut down. From what I can glean it seems that another wide emergency access road -- not a trail -- is being built there. A DNV source told me eight trail crew members have been hired on DNV payroll, and that the bin is full of tools to do the job.
The public needs to know about the fact more may be happening than what they think is going on up there. It is not just benign trail "repairs and signage". Whether they care or not is another matter.
Mountain biking is actually dwindling on Fromme Mountain, not growing anymore. Mountain biking actually peaked a couple years ago, and there are less people on bikes inside there than previously! Many of these extreme mountain bikers have moved on elsewhere to ride, since Fromme Mountain has become too managed for their liking, ie. Squamish, BC.
Why is DNV being so evasive about giving out this "economic stimulus project" information to the public? Any new road building won't be popular, in any case. We already have a good access road, nearby. The only thing standing in the way of finding out more is the complacency of the general citizenry.
At this rate there will be nothing of ecological value left to save by time DNV Environmental Policy is put in place for the Official Community Plan 2030! It is not just about the environment, but about democracy and transparent local governance. By time we do find out the answer to our questions, it just may be too late to do anything about it.