About 30 outdoor enthusiasts recently gathered in Hope to discuss the progress of trail work in the province.
The community was chosen to host this year’s Trails BC annual general meeting on April 26, which provided an opportunity for local stakeholders to showcase initiatives in the region.
“We have about 30,000 kilometres of formally recognized trails and many thousands more of informal trails here in B.C.,” said Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness at the beginning of the meeting. “The government could not afford to hire the people necessary to build, groom and manage trails in B.C. You do this for love not money. We have to thank you for your commitment to the environment and for your commitment to the people of B.C. to help them more easily enjoy our beautiful province.”
Trails BC is working with partners across the country to fill in the gaps and connect the Trans Canada Trail from coast to coast by 2017, in time for Canada’s 150th birthday. To date, nearly 17,000 kilometres of the trail are operational which is nearly 72 percent of the proposed route.
Kelly Pearce, program director for Hope Mountain Centre, pointed out that the HBC Trail could be used as an alternate route over the Cascade Mountains. The local non-profit organization has invested countless volunteer hours over the past few years to improve camping facilities and trail quality.
“We build and mostly maintain trails in order to meet our core mandate of getting people outside,” said Pearce. “(The HBC Trail) is a beautiful trail. It’s incredible country and has a range of landscapes. It’s going to be such a thrill for people to travel over.”
Completed in 1849, the HBC trail was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company with the help of local First Nations. They built the trail to link the Fraser River at Fort Hope with Fort Kamloops and other important fur forts farther north to Stuart Lake.
Since 2009, volunteers have logged 1,400 hours on the trail, which Pearce values at about $20,000. Trail improvements include flagging, GPS, mapping, brushing, danger tree removal, directional signs, new Peer’s Creek pedestrian bridge, and trailhead facilities like outhouses, interpretive kiosks, and backcountry campsites. Moving forward, the goal is have a direct 75-kilometre trail from Hope to Tulameen. This year, Pearce said volunteers will be working on connecting Tulameen with Loadstone Lake.
Another big project currently underway in the region is Experience the Fraser. Integral to the planning and development of the route has been the inclusion of the Trans Canada Trail.
The Experience the Fraser project started in 2009 to connect Hope to the Salish Sea. With the aid of $2.5 million in funding from the province, Fraser Valley Regional District and Metro Vancouver jointly developed a concept plan and implementation plan for the project that identifies trails and blueway routes, implementation strategies and actions to achieve the ultimate goal of creating a world-class destination. Over 550 kilometres of trails (43 per cent of which are already in place) and blueways will connect communities along the Fraser River.
Project lead David Urban said the proposed trail project includes seven trail segments that will fill priority gaps in the Canyon to Coast Trail route, recreational access along six dykes, five new or improved pedestrian/cycling water crossings, eight new or enhanced boat launches, blueway signage and wayfinding system, and riverfront regional park water access and amenities.
The trail’s vision route within the FVRD is 245 kilometres in length – 28 per cent (69 km) exists and 72 per cent (176 km) needs to be constructed on both sides of the river from Hope to Abbotsford. The cost estimate to construct the 176 kilometres of non-existing trail is estimated at $9.6 million.
The FVRD is currently in the process of securing dyke access in Mission, Chilliwack, District of Kent and electoral area G. Urban said he’s also working on gaining access to utilize the Kettle Valley Rail route underneath the Fraser Bridge in Hope.