ARICHAT: Richmond County wants to be part of an expanded mountain bike strategy for Cape Breton.

The Cape Breton Partnership (CBP), the Municipality of the County of Victoria, and Destination Cape Breton engaged Shoreline Consulting Group to develop an action plan to attract a new tourism industry to Cape Breton based around mountain biking while designating Victoria County and Cape Breton as the “Mountain Biking Capital of North America.”

Richmond Warden Amanda Mombourquette told the regular monthly meeting on May 25 that the CBP has discussed the possibility of expanding this strategy into Richmond and Inverness counties.

“The Cape Breton Partnership is interested in further enhancing the work of the mountain bike strategy,” she said. “The current strategy was really led by the Cape Breton Partnership, also Victoria County, so it didn’t have as much of a footprint in the southern part of the island.”

The CBP will have Shoreline Consulting work with the Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network to find stakeholders, work with municipal council to identify land opportunities for pump tracks and trails, and identify private landowners, parks and non-profits in the area, the warden said.

Noting that mountain biking is a lifestyle, sport, and healthy outlet that is growing into a cornerstone of major economic growth in regions that are leveraging it properly, the CBP said communities all over the world are seeing economic and community revival, quality of health on the rise, and the influx of new faces bringing tourism dollars and a desire for quality experiences. They said clustered communities featuring well-engineered mountain bike experiences will keep tourists and locals exploring, thus spreading their spending throughout the region.

Mombourquette said the partnership wants to prioritize four to six locations in Inverness and Richmond counties.

District 5 Councillor Brent Sampson called the expansion of the strategy “fantastic” and an “exciting opportunity.”

District 1 Councillor Shawn Samson said this has the potential to further expand the tourism season and industry.

“What might be the biggest issue will be land accessibility,” he said. “They’re talking about looped trails or point-to-point trails where you turn around and come back. But I think the land is going to be a big issue at this time.”

Deputy Warden Michael Diggdon suggested municipal committees, like land use planning, could work with the CBP.

District 3 Councillor Melanie Sampson also asked if the recreation department will be involved, and whether a motion of council can help expand the strategy.

Mombourquette responded that the partnership’s efforts can be supported with a motion for the time being, but the municipality will get more involved in the strategy as it proceeds.