CHARGED UP CHARITY Two potential grants could quadruple the impact of any donations made toward the Westside Legacy Trail prior to March 31st. Photo courtesy of Greenways

CHARGED UP CHARITY Two potential grants could quadruple the impact of any donations made toward the Westside Legacy Trail prior to March 31st. Photo courtesy of Greenways

By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

Any donation made to the Westside Legacy Trail Fundraising Committee (WLTFC) before March 31st could end up being match funded with grants from Columbia Basin Trust and BikeBC up to a maximum total of $1.5 million

Every dollar people contribute, can be matched by CBT, and that amount can be matched again by BikeBC, said Mark Halwa, Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance (CVGTA) executive director by email. So $1 in could be $4 of trail subject to both grants being approved, of course.

The initiative to quadruple the donations before spring came into play is thanks to two programs targeted at improving trail infrastructure.

The double matching was a combination of luck and timing, said Mr. Halwa. Luck in that two good grant programs specifically targeted at trail infrastructure both became available when the Columbia Valley has a shovel-ready project. Timing because the CBT grant intake is several weeks before BikeBCs, which may allow funds from one to be leveraged by the other.

The proposed 25-kilometre trail will be located on the west side of Lake Windermere, parallel to Westside Road. The CVGTA and WLTFC anticipates the pathway will be five metres wide with a three-metre paved width featuring a painted centre line, and moderately flat with some challenging sections.

The total cost of the project is estimated to cost about $5 million to complete and $1.25 million of that total cost has already been raised for the project so far.

If we receive the full grant from CBT and BikeBC, that will add another $1.5 million and half the trail will get built this year, said Mr. Halwa, while noting the project aims to improve safety, promote healthy lifestyles in the valley, bring the community together and boost tourism numbers.

The goal of the project is to connect the communities between Invermere and Fairmont Hot Springs, and the trail will be open to runners, bicyclists, strollers, wheelchairs and rollerbladers.

It will create a space which brings together full and part-time residents to develop a tighter sense of community, said Mr. Hawla. Our Lake Windermere Whiteway has proven this by creating a public space to engage in multiple winter activities as a community. The Westside Legacy Trail can increase those interpersonal interactions on a year round basis.

Visit www.ourtrail.org for more information and to make a donation.