Blue Mountain Rally
May 13, 2000
The Blue Mtn Rally marked the first time that a large number of BC fourwheelers came together to fight for their sport. The event organizer, Will Heller, was largely responsible for this feat. WHY was the rally organized? I'll let Joel Bennett give you the background:
Blue Mountain has long been an area that has seen heavy use by the four
wheel drive community. During that time our rights to use this particular
area has been challenged several times, by both community residents and
others such as the District of Maple Ridge. Through-out these times, in one
form or another, we have always maintained access to this area.
The latest chapter in the Blue Mountain saga came on January 1st 2000,
when a BC South Coast All Terrainers New Year's trail run was
cut short by the Maple Ridge RCMP who escorted them out of the area.
They claimed it was under investigation as an area where car theft rings
operate. Shortly after this event, barricades started appearing throughout the area.
The 256 St alternate entrance to Blue Mountain is land retained under
reserve by the BC Ministry of Highways. After discussion with the
Chilliwack Forest District, the District of Maple Ridge, and
surrounding neighbors and
interested parties, it was determined that the Ministry of Highways
themselves were responsible for the barricades.
Mr Brad Gundberg, Assistant Region Manager for for the Ministry of
Highways, personally oversaw the closure of this entrance. When
contacted by the Four Wheel Drive Association of B.C., he said his
"concerns over the area were (A) liability on the part of the Ministry of
Highways for illegal activity on their property, (B) potential damage of
the forest area of the mountain, and (C) because of soil erosion, it was
thought that personal injuries could occur and thus the ministry would
be held liable.
The issue that we, the four wheel drive community, have with this
stand is that all of these decisions about public lands,
public activities, and public safety were done without any
of the public's input. In particular, there was absolutely
no consultation with the public that uses the area: four wheel
drive enthusiasts, motorcyclists, and mountain bikers. What we feel
happenned here is that an order came down from the government
authority known as ICBC to stop car theft & dumping in the area by
any means necessary, including barring us from land that we have already
established a right to be on. Doing this without any form of public
consultation was unethical, to say the least.
That's why the rally was organized.
Approximately 150-200 vehicles showed up either at the 256 St powerline entrance (location of the barricades) or at the "parade." The parade was a double-lane procession of 4wd vehicles down Dewdney Trunk Rd, the heart of Maple Ridge. Oddly enough, all the trucks were stuck in 1st gear, low range. The trucks were east-bound on Dewdney Trunk, a few km away from where Dewdney Trunk joins the Lougheed Hwy. I was west-bound when I saw them. Several 'wheelers in the group, whom I hadn't met before, waved at me and gestured for me to turn around and join in the crawl. They were doing this to all the 4x4s that drove by. One of the crawling trucks stopped to let me in so I pulled a u-turn, dropped into low range, and began idling.
The start of the convoy.
Robin, Dave and Trina in the Spamuri. Their photo made it into two
As expected, some motorists were extremely agitated by this procession but even more were supportive of our cause. People on the sidewalk and street-side residents came up to us and asked what was going on. When informed of the situation, they invariably agreed that we had a right to access public land.
At one point, a police vehicle passed us with its lights flashing and cut in front of the lead vehicles. The officer stopped her car and had a discussion with the drivers. She agreed to allow our little parade to continue as long as we didn't block both lanes of traffic. It seemed like a fair compromise so we complied.
"Marker" brought his entire family along.
The procession gets stopped by an RCMP constable.
When we reached the Lougheed Highway, we went straight through the intersection to re-group at the Canadian Tire parking lot (the store manager was fine with this). It was decided over the CB that we would drive bumper-to-bumper and proceed through the intersection as a group, no matter what the traffic signal light was indicating. I guess the idea was to create as much havoc as possible. Well, it started getting ugly as soon as our lane got the red light. Motorists heading perpendicular to our direction proceeded on the green and tried to force their way through our tightly packed group. This led to a lot of horn blowing and some near-collisions, mostly between trucks in our convoy who were trying to leave no room for the cross traffic to slip through. Saner heads soon prevailed and the rest of our group obeyed the red light.
Aside from a couple of boneheads who simply HAD to play in a vacant lot, there were no problems with the re-organization in the parking lot. We got turned around and proceeded east along the Lougheed Hwy. I'm not sure why but the pace was faster on this next leg. In fact, I don't think anyone shifted into low range. The only notable event occurred when a white YJ in our group got rear-ended by a 4x4 van that was also in our group.
When we finally arrived back at the 256 Street entrance, there were long lines of trucks parked on either side of the street. Large banners were erected, advertising BC4x4, the 4WDABC, and Tread Lightly. An information table was set up. There was a petition and information sheets were available for the taking.
Just like at the Canadian Tire parking lot, there were a few idiots who insisted on crashing their trucks through the illegal bypass to enter Blue Mtn. Whether or not they were because of the rally or not, I do not know. I do know, however, that one of these geniuses was spinning his tires as he crawled out of the bypass at the same time that a reporter showed up.
There was an excellent turn-out at the 256 St entrance.
The information table.
These are the barricades that the Ministry of Highways installed to protect
themselves from possible lawsuits. The fact that it is keeping tax-paying
British Columbians off of public land is totally irrelevant to them.
Will Heller, the prime organizer for the event. Good job, Will!
Was the rally a success? In the sense that it got a lot of 'wheelers together to publicly demonstrate against the government, yes. In the sense of it re-opening access to Blue Mountain, no. I believe that for it to be a success, the spirit of the rally must go on to spark further action. If not, then it was simply a big get together that did nothing more than make us feel like we had a voice for that one day.
So where do we go from here? We need to educate ourselves and the non-fourwheeling public. We need to learn how to make our arguments known in a clear, concise manner. We need to package our arguments in a compelling way to generate sympathy for our cause and counter the shallow politically-correct thinking that says that motor vehicle users have no place in the forest. The public needs to learn that we do not race around in the woods like the SUV drivers they see on the TV commercials. They need to realize that we have just as much appreciation and concern for nature as they do.
In short, we have just begun the long road to re-claim our rights. Whether or not we finish this journey is up to YOU.
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