On Friday, April 7th Greenways Trail Alliance held a public meeting to present their trail vision and recommendations to the community. The event had 100 community members in attendance to hear what plans Greenways has for the future of trails in the Columbia Valley.
“The Trail Vision document is the ‘beginning’ and it does not make decisions on trails. It is the initial point of discussion and to get the decision makers involved at a planning level. Which trails get developed and when is the next step,” said Greenways Trail Alliance Executive Director Mark Halwa.
In their trail vision goals, Greenways identified eight goals, including increased education of trail users; creating a trail town culture in the Columbia Valley; partnerships; consistent signage and wayfinding; improving trailhead facilities and amenities; prioritization of new trails or formal designation of existing trails and anticipated costs; linking all geographic areas create a cohesive system in the Valley; and identify a framework for sustainable maintenance.
“We’ve tried to be as open as possible with our values, trail development ideas, and recommendations. For anyone still unclear of what we propose to do, they can read the one page of recommendations. Not many groups in the Valley have put forward a vision document like this to inform the public and seek consultation before actually doing anything,” said Mr. Halwa.
During the public meeting, many valley residents brought forward concerns for the wildlife in the region and how these proposed trails will affect them. One resident stated “core values in this community (include) love of the environment, clean water, wildlife. I was struck by the lack of inclusion of that (in the vision document).”
Another resident stated “I feel that nobody up there is standing up for wildlife” referring to the Greenways Trail Alliance directors. Mr. Hawla said to those in attendance anybody who cares about the wildlife or cares about the environment is welcome to come and participate.
Greenways trails vision recommendations do include the compliance of wildlife acts, however, they did not go into how they intend to deal with wildlife at this meeting as they were giving a review of their vision for future projects.
“Some people arrived expecting to review a wildlife management plan. Greenways intend to fully comply with the Wildlife Act, the Water Act, the Fisheries Act and all other legislation while we maintain or build trails. If anyone is looking for a wildlife management plan, they should review the Wildlife Act,” said Mr. Hawla.
The Greenways team focused their presentation on discussing their trail vision recommendations that included working with government bodies and private landowners to sanction unsanctioned trails. The group is also seeking to offer comprehensive, consistent signage, including trailhead kiosks, make access to trails easier, and build trailhead facilities at all trails. Greenway also plans to coordinate with each local government to act as a cohesive group in marketing the region. One of the group’s biggest plans is to investigate the potential for High Alpine Epic Trail between Panorama, Invermere, and Nipika.
The group also wants to create a fundraising mechanism, create a central hub for mountain biking activities, create easy access between communities, encourage the development of additional campground facilities, and use International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and other industry standards.
“With trail use exploding, it’s kind of like a rowdy house party with 100 people — is anyone still wondering if someone should look after the house” said Mr. Hawla, adding somebody needs to ‘look after the house of trails’.
To view the entire 2017 trail vision visit https://www.greenways.ca/trails-vision-2017/