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ATV enthusiasts plan to expand North Island adventure tourism

The North Island has the potential to become a global destination for ATV tourism, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

That’s the vision of Graham Lindenbach from the Campbell River ATV club, who gave a presentation to the city last week. His club has helped create the North Island 1000, a circular route along logging roads that lets all-terrain vehicle riders explore more than a dozen communities from Campbell River to Port Hardy over 10 days.

“Our location on Vancouver Island is so perfect. We’re on the edge of adventure,” he said. “Well over 80% of the population lives south of us, so Campbell River literally is the gateway to the North Island.”

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All they need is a place to start. Lindenbach says tourists from all over the world already come to do the route but need a safe place to store vehicles and trailers while exploring the backcountry. One group which used the Pye Lake campground as a staging area had all their vehicles broken into while they were away, and Lindenbach says others who bring custom machines worth tens of thousands of dollars don’t want to take any risks.

He says the club has been using a gravel lot on We Wai Kum First Nation land near Willis Road, but with development planned at the site, it may not be available for much longer, so they are appealing to the city to find a better location.

A secure starting and end point will help grow the burgeoning ATV adventure tourism industry, he says.

The route has been in use for several years, Lindenbach says it’s popular with many different kinds of tourists, from people on mountain bikes, to motorcycles, to multi-person utility terrain vehicles.

Council directed staff to report back on what options might be available for the club.

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