NCC Greenbelt Review and Mountain Biking: Part One

I am starting a series of blog postings on the National Capital Commission's Greenbelt Master Plan Review as it relates to mountain biking. This will be the first posting in that series. The last posting will be my personal submission on Mountain Biking in the National Capital Greenbelt.

This link will take you directly to the Review of the 1996 Greenbelt Master Plan.

Just as an aside, an interesting thing I discovered in starting this review is that the airport is part of the greenbelt. And I thought including a golf course as part of the Kanata Lakes environmental lands was pushing the envelope. Do they paint the runways green.

The NCC's current policy on mountain biking on the Greenbelt Trails was expressed this way in an email sent to us, dated May 12, 2006:

We know that there is a lot of interest in off-road riding on Greenbelt hiking trails. On the other hand, section (16) of the NCC Traffic & Property Regulations states..."No person shall ride a bicycle on property of the Commission other than a driveway or on a bicycle path set aside by the Commission for the purpose...". While we have not actively tried to enforce this particular regulation, we do not condone the practice. There are long-term impacts on the trails and surrounding area, particularly rutting, trail erosion, trail widening as users veer off the designated route to avoid ruts and muddy surface, and destruction of adjacent vegetation. In the winter, we want to discourage bike riders who may travel across groomed ski tracks.
Hopefully this review process will allow the NCC to become more enlightened about the environmental impacts of mountain biking and the benefits of allowing mountain biking on the Greenbelt Trails.

Greenbelt Master Plan Summary (1996 Master Plan)

The first thing I looked at in my review of the NCC documents on the current Greenbelt Master Plan Review was the Greenbelt Master Plan Summary (1996 Master Plan).

In reviewing the 1996 Master Plan Summary I found references to trails, including this reference:
What is the Greenbelt?

As the Capital’s principal rural landscape, the Greenbelt offers a welcome breathing space between the Capital’s inner and outer urban areas on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River. The Greenbelt is a crescent shaped mosaic of farms, forests and wetlands complemented by ski and hiking trails and dotted with federal and private institutions. Its rural character, along with the wilderness setting of Gatineau Park and the Capital’s many riverside parks and urban green spaces, creates a uniquely Canadian setting for the Capital that symbolizes the vast and diverse landscapes of this great nation. It is the only greenbelt in the world that is publicly owned in its entirety, and it helps make Canada’s Capital one of the most beautiful and enjoyable capitals in the world.
A search for references to cycling or biking found no references except one reference to providing bicycle parking:
Infrastructure Corridor

This designation identifies lands that are used to move people, services and goods through the Greenbelt without fragmenting valuable cultivated or natural areas. Appropriate uses include roads, transitways and sewers,water mains and natural gas pipelines. Infrastructure such as hydro lines will be as unintrusive as possible, and public access to the Greenbelt will be improved via such facilities as bicycle parking or farm produce stands at transitway stations. Most infrastructure corridors or will be owned by levels of government other than federal.
Obviously, the Master Plan requires updating to take into account the extensive interest in cycling and mountain biking in the National Capital Region.


The next thing I examined were the announcements relating to the review.
The revision will be done in two phases. Phase I will run from now through to the summer of 2010 and will focus on developing a comprehensive assessment, a vision statement and a land-use concept. Phase II will span from the spring of 2010 through to the fall of 2011 and will help to specify work needed in each area, including the development of policy statements, designations of land use, recommendations on the National Interest Land Mass (NILM), and requirements for guidelines and design. Once these are established, the final draft of the Master Plan can proceed.

The review process places particular emphasis on consulting the public in the very early stages. Other partners and stakeholders to be consulted include the Public Advisory Committee, affected municipal, provincial and federal bodies and various interest groups. This extensive consultation will complement and inform activities of the NCC’s existing groups of experts including NCC staff, its Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Real Estate (ACPDR) and the NCC Board.
The NCC site also included this statement:

The NCC is encouraging the public and other levels of government to participate in planning the future of the Greenbelt. There will be extensive public consultations and workshops during the process of the updating of the Greenbelt Master Plan (see “The Update”).

During Step 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the process there will be numerous opportunities for members of the public to participate and contribute to the review. Those opportunities will be advertized and posted well in advance on this website. As the study proceeds, members of the public can share their views on this website.
So far the only opportunity provided on the web site, that I could find, for the public to participate is a survey form here:.

An email address for more comprehensive submissions does not seem to be provided, though perhaps one could send a submission to info@ncc-ccn.ca and request that your submission be forwarded to the appropriate person.

The Backgrounders

Coming in the next blog posting.

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