Happy New Year! 2019 Year In Review Series – Part 1 – Message from the President

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January 2, 2020
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January 6, 2020
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Happy New Year! 2019 Year In Review Series – Part 1 – Message from the President

Happy New Year to Everyone in the sphere of the FVMBA (that includes our members, our partners, our stakeholders, our communities and everyone who rides bikes on dirt and loves trails in the Fraser Valley).

Over the next couple weeks, leading up to the AGM (on January 18, 2020), we will be posting a ‘2019 Year In Review Series,’ with updates from our Directors, Trail Reps, and Staff. Please check your email Inbox, or check our NEWS section, to follow the series.

To kick-off this series, we’d like to share a Message from the FVMBA President, Rocky Blondin:

Message from the FVMBA President…

I’ll start by saying thanks for all you collectively do for the MTB community. I’ve been a part of many types of sporting organizations over my lifetime. I will say with conviction that the MTB community is so unique and special that it makes doing what we do as an organization so full of pride for those pulling the rope. We attended the MTB Tourism Symposium this year in force, and it was yet another occasion to see so many great people invested in making their communities better. Our communities in the Fraser Valley are definitely no exception, and in many ways are leaders in their own rights.

Our thematic goal for 2019 was “(re)Building Bridges”. This is something we set out internally as a goal. We noticed that many of the bridges on many of the trails we care for were in pretty rough shape. Broken boards, broken stringers, missing nails, and slimy coatings. It was a metaphor for some of the stakeholder relationships we have too – a bit neglected and due for some attention. So, in 2019, we set out to (re)build many bridges – and many we did. But there are still many to do.

This effort is being lead by our new for 2019 Operations Manager – Penny Deck. She has upped our capacity to get shovels in the ground and bridges where they need to be, and you will see evermore work getting done in 2020 and beyond.

2019 proved a very challenging year for the legal aspects of what we do. It is no secret – there has always been a cultural history of building trails without landowner permission. This is present in the Fraser Valley, and all over BC. Our region is a microcosm of the greater picture of land management challenges throughout the Province. We helped coordinate meetings and dialogue with the public land managers, foresters, First Nations, Cities, other user groups, and other people that have vested interest in how public land is used and managed.

From this, we agreed to work collaboratively towards solutions that can be supported by everyone at those tables. And finding that balance is not a simple task. That balance comes full of compromise and we have been working diligently to try and find the balance where builders can build, but it doesn’t come at the expense of the land managers goals, the foresters trees, the First Nations Traditional territory and heritage, or in conflict with other user groups.  It is a delicate balancing act and I am proud to say that we have done the best we can in some of the most challenging situations seen in recent history and have committed to do the right thing wherever possible.

The reality of 2020 and beyond – without permission to build & maintain, we won’t have any more trails and stand to lose many of the ones we have now, to the forces that are always threatening them. And permission requires much more than just filling out a permit. It requires establishing trust with everyone involved and making commitments to action, and follow-through in order to earn and keep that trust. It requires buy-in from the community, our builders & our members to all support doing things in a good way.

Now, what does 2020 hold?  Well, I’ll start with it has less of me!  This will be my last year on the board – I’ll be passing the torch to a capable and amazing team of incumbent directors to carry forward with. I’ve been on the board for 5 years now, involved with the club for 7, and been in advocacy for over a decade. So, I’ve given all my good stuff and it’s time for fresh faces to carry the torch and give some fresh ideas and perspective. I have some new exciting challenges headed my way, and my inspiring family that could use more of my good stuff too, so I will be leaving your good graces. I leave you in very good hands.

Here’s where if I still have your attention – WE NEED YOU!  We do have some board seats opening up this year. Technically 9 of them as that many seats are expired two-year terms. But many of our current board members will be standing for re-election so the open seats count at 2 or 3. So, we need some more support. We have taken a look at our gaps and we need the following:

  • Directors North of the Fraser. One in Maple Ridge and/or one in Mission would serve well for good, balanced regional representation.  We already have lots from Chilliwack! Abbotsford could stand for one too if it worked out that way. But we need help on the #Northside for sure.
  • Directors with financial experience. Our long-standing Treasurer, Mark Sawatzky, is standing for re-election, but indicates this will likely be his last term. We need someone to take the reigns for our financial leadership needs.
  • Directors with organizational leadership experience. Our club is now a force to be reckoned with. We have come a long way in the past few years and now with staff, and substantial budget, we need board members that can help shepherd the club along, achieving the goals set out by the board and the members.

Speaking of goals, what are they? I’ll leave that for the new board to affirm as they set out in 2020 to continue the growth of the club, but in our meetings to establish our 2020 budget, a key theme came to the surface for all the director’s & staff’s goals: Information and Introductions. We aim to Introduce you all and new members to the club with better communication, Introduce new people to riding bikes, and Introduce our club to more stakeholders in the region. We also aim to provide more Information. Better content for our website in the form of some route recommendations for varying levels of difficulty, and better Information at the trailhead including kiosks with maps, and trail signage throughout the Valley. It’s an I&I kind of year.

These are big undertakings as we still work towards establishing all our existing trails, managing trail capacity loss due to development (primarily Ledgeview), maintaining the trails we have established under Section 56 (Woodlot, Sumas, Vedder) and that are close to complete (Bear/Red, Thornhill). We are also rolling out a new membership management platform which will give us better control over how we engage with our members as well as build an event management and timing system into our back-end.

When I think about all that this club takes on, it is truly incredible. And, it takes a village and your support. You can buy your 2020 membership now!

I am super stoked to see staff and the new board roll out the events and programs they are already working on for 2020. Seriously, just you wait.

We also identified that we need help in keeping some existing things going (Social Series) and filling some new opportunities that have come to our attention (Fiver casual race series, Fraser Valley Bike Race, Sumas Enduro, and others). If you are keen to help, you don’t need to join the board.  Contact us at info@fvmba.com and express your interest. We have the tools and resources available to enable and empower these things. We just need you to take the lead, form a team and have some fun along the way.  From the words of one of our re-enlisting board members “this is the most fun I’ve had volunteering for anything”. We don’t deny it will be challenging, but the rewards are quite compelling and the team you’ll be working with is top-shelf.

So, three plus pages. I’m sorry… I warned you – a lot to say. And I’m not telling it all. The issues we face are nuanced and complicated. The opportunities never seem to end. The community continues to build and grow, and with that comes an ever-growing responsibility to all the people we serve to be good stewards in everything we do. So, I’ll leave it with y’all and encourage anyone with an interest in getting involved, contact us today. You’ll be glad you did and so will we.

All the best in 2020 and beyond.

Rocky Blondin
President – FVMBA



1 Comment

  1. Kelly Fuller says:

    Excellent Newsletter and year in review

    Thank you Rocky and current board for all of your commitments to making and keeping these awesome trails for all ages and most outdoor activities.
    FVMBA I am proud to support you always.
    I am available for light trail maintenance in Mission/maple ridge

    Kelly Fuller

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