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CEDC MAT Fund provides Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club with $250,000 in support of the Trowbridge Forest Master Plan

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission and Tourism Thunder Bay are pleased to support a local mountain biking organization, the Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club with implementation of the Trowbridge Forest Master Plan. The Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club will receive $250,000 over the next two years to complete the construction of the 1.5 million dollar project. 

The trail construction work got underway in late May and will consist of an expansion of the existing single track trails by up to 15km, the addition of a bike skills park and improvements to the park infrastructure in the Shuniah Mines area within the Trowbridge Forest. The funding was approved by the CEDC Board of Directors through the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) Fund and is contingent on other funding partners also supporting the project.

“The generous contribution from the CEDC through their MAT fund will go a long way in allowing Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club, in partnership with the City of Thunder Bay Parks and Open Space, to develop the Trowbridge Forest Recreation Trail Master plan,” says Mark Maranzan, Vice President, Trail Development Chair, Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club. “This will give us a world-class trail system to market as a tourism destination. The tourism potential cannot be overstated, as similar systems in other jurisdictions through Canada and the United States receive 20,000 plus visitors per year who spend money in local shops, restaurants and hotels.”

Completion of the Trowbridge Falls Master Plan over the next two years will put Thunder Bay on the map with an excellent mountain biking venue and is expected to tangibly improve tourism to the area.

“Thunder Bay has already seen an increase in mountain biking tourism due to the local club and their efforts to build awareness about the sport,” said Tourism Manager Paul Pepe

According to statistics provided by Trailforks.com, Thunder Bay has experienced tremendous rider growth over the past few years. Rider “check-ins” are up from 1,800 in 2014 to over 25,000 in 2020 with 49% of riders being from out of town. Evidence from discussions with out of town riders met by local riders at the trailhead have indicated that many have been people who were traveling through Thunder Bay on the TransCanada Highway for various reasons had decided to stop for a day or two specifically to check out the trails.

“The completion of the Trowbridge Forest Recreation Master Plan is a great opportunity to provide a venue that establishes Thunder Bay as a destination for mountain biking and fat biking with the year round potential to attract visitors,” said John Cameron, Tourism Development Officer for CEDC – Tourism Thunder Bay. “The goal is that 1.5 million dollar project will establish Thunder Bay as an international ride center with the opportunity to host championship events once complete.”

Furthering the tourism potential the improved infrastructure will also ensure the growth of Blacksheep’s premier event– the Shuniah 40 Miner. Established in 2016, the race now attracts over 130 riders. The improved trail network with unique features to advertise and an improved festival venue at Trowbridge Forest, Blacksheep anticipates an increase in participation rate over the next few years. Mountain Biking events have tremendous tourism potential and have grown in popularity over the past few years with some regional events attracting over 2,000 riders.

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