Non-Bear Mountain residents will now have to pay $45 to access the Finlayson Mountain Trail after the landowners cut off access.
Residents who live in the neighbourhood atop Skirt Mountain and are looking to walk down Country Club Way to access the trails beyond will now be redirected to the nearby activity centre, where they’ll have to fill in a waiver if they’re a resident and wear a wristband.
That’s what happened to neighbourhood resident Kali Philp when she was out walking on May 24. Philp has lived in the neighbourhood for several years and dodged the fee, but worries the rule fuels a negative impression of the neighbourhood and makes Bear Mountain seem “elitist.”
“Our neigbourhood is filled with nice people who kind of get painted with the same brush as this development company,” she said. “Just like other Vancouver Islanders, we want to share nature.”
Landowners Ecoasis Developments said the rule is merely an extension of its one-day recreational use fee which allows access to the Bear Mountain Activity Centre, including use of multiple gyms, a pool and other recreation facilities.
Ruthanne Doyle, a spokesperson for Ecoasis, wrote in an email that the “Resort Trail Program” had been previously announced in 2021, but delayed due to COVID-19.
“The program was formulated in response to a significant increase in traffic on our private property and is part of our risk management program to meet increasingly stringent insurance requirements,” Doyle wrote in an email.
Philp said she walks the trails daily and hadn’t noticed an uptick in traffic – indeed, she prefers the trails when they are busier to help ward off any wildlife that may live in the area.
Doyle said the company consulted the City of Langford, District of Highlands, the RCMP and the community association about the rule change. The neighbouring hotels were also asked about joining a resort pass program but declined, according to Doyle.
Enforcement of the rule will be done by resort staff.
“Watching for wristbands, educating cyclists, hikers and walkers of the requirements and directing them to the Bear Mountain Activity Centre where waivers and further information can be obtained is part of the scope of work. It’s our hope that people respect that it is private property so greater enforcement is not required,” said Doyle.