It came to him while on a forest trail with his dog.
Skiing with his four-legged friend Mook at Bull Mountain recently, trail designer and builder Tom Schoen of First Journey Trails had a light bulb moment.
He said there were no other vehicles in the parking lot and he did his usual loop with his dog.
But he wanted to ski further after finishing the dog loop, and with no one else out there, he went a little higher to check it out.
“While I was skiing with [my dog] up there, I thought this would just be the perfect loop to add, I think that would make so many people happy,” said Schoen.
So Schoen went home and developed a proposal to put forward to the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club board for the Bull Mountain Trail Network.
He said he loves the work the club has been doing, but thought this might be something that helps support and improve what they have, especially given the increase in dog ownership during the pandemic.
“I love that place, but if I hear one single complaint … it’s that ‘No, I’m not going there because I can’t bring my dog,’” said Schoen.
Schoen said he was surprised to read over 50 per cent of Canadian households now own a dog and many tourism destinations, including Whistler, are opening up more areas to visitors with dogs.
“It really is what the public is demanding,” said Schoen, though he said it will be up to the club as to whether they feel the proposal works for Bull Mountain.
His proposal is to open up an existing section of the current cross-country ski network to skiers with dogs, in order to increase the intermediate trails included in the dog-friendly areas.
Currently, the dog-friendly trails include 16 per cent of the trail network on Bull Mountain, the proposal would raise this to 27 per cent of the existing network.
While he had been thinking about talking to the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club about new trails for the network, the trail designer and builder said he knew the club is at capacity with maintaining what they have, so it was his rogue ski with his dog that gave him the idea to simply expand on existing dog loops.
The proposal Schoen provided includes donating the signage for the extension and their installation and also includes discussion of the responsibilities of dog owners to maintain control and clean up after their pets.
His proposal is for the club to try the change for one winter and then be able to revisit it in a year to see whether it was successful or not.
Robin Dawes, chair of the Williams Lake Cross Country Ski Club, responded to Schoen’s proposal with appreciation and by acknowledging the “time and consideration” he put in.
Dawes responded via email that the proposal would be discussed at the April 5 board meeting, after which time they would let him know their decision.