Mountain bike maintenance fee on track for Ben Lomond

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Businesses using Ben Lomond Reserve mountain biking tracks will need to stump up a maintenance fee in the future.

A ‘user pays’ system is being set up for commercial and event activities using the public trails to ensure downhill tracks are kept to a high standard.

The move was discussed at a meeting between Skyline Enterprises, Vertigo Bikes, Queenstown Lakes District Council and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club last Thursday.

A committee made up of those four parties is being set up to monitor track usage.

QLDC takes a cut of tickets clipped by Skyline for bikers riding the gondola. Other commercial operators in Ben Lomond Forest are charged 7.5 per cent for the privilege of using public land – but that money goes back into council coffers.

On top of that contribution, a minimal fee will be tacked on for the users, which will go straight into track repairs.

APL Property Ltd property manager Dan Egerton says a “minimal amount” of commercial users’ takings – about the 10 cent mark – will be put into a separate pot for trail upkeep.

“That’s our next step – to work out what those figures are, but it is likely to be literally cents per ride,” Egerton says.

QMTBC president Lance Brown welcomes the changes.

“The club feels we do need to install some financial sustainability on how the hill needs to be managed,” Brown told the council’s community services committee meeting last week.

A commercial licence application by Vertigo Bikes to be mountain bike guides in the forest was tabled at the meeting.

Vertigo Bikes’ current licence to guide on the hill – which they’ve had since 2001 – is due to expire in November.