Trail improvements will create short-term employment

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

It will be happy trails for 26 projects as Columbia Basin Trust (The Trust) will support trail improvements and trail crew jobs throughout 17 communities across the region. The Trust announced $764,000 in funding will go towards rehabilitating trails, constructing trail infrastructure, or making capital purchases to better enhance trails. Some trails will be made longer, or get upgraded surfaces, new bridges or benches. As well,  $315,595 in funding will go towards creating 38 short-term trail-crew jobs while enhancing Basin recreational trails.

“There will be a total of 38 jobs created, which will enable unemployed and underemployed Basin residents to gain valuable work experience and advance their skills, while at the same time enhancing trails,” said Justine Cohen, manager, delivery of benefits, Columbia Basin Trust.

Projects eligible for trail enhancement grants included any in which the development or rehabilitation of trails, construction of complementary trail infrastructure… will enhance the experience of the user. Eligible applicants included registered non-profits, local governments, and First Nations in The Trust region. Applications were assessed based on their alignment with the program criteria. Mount Buchanan near Kaslo network will benefit from activities like adding connector trails to its trails such as Songbird, True Blue, Friendly Giant, and Straight Face. Hazardous trees will be removed, and signage upgraded. These projects will be overseen by the Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trails Society (which) will also hire two trail crew employees.

“Our club saw an amazing number of riders accessing these trails in summer 2022, and our projects reflect the need to stay ahead of this influx of users of various age groups, skill levels and abilities,” said Dan Miles, Trails Society president, in a January press release. “Well-developed and maintained trails promote an active lifestyle, and these trails will continue to help Kaslo, and the north end of Kootenay Lake, participate in the unprecedented expansion of mountain bike culture and trail tourism in B.C.”       Out of 26 projects, Rosebery Bonanza Summit Trail Alliance Society is improving an eight kilometre (km) section between Rosebery and Hills to make it more inclusive for users, while keeping in mind the environment and wildlife values. The rail trail between Summit Lake and New Denver, B.C. has been a popular trek for commuting as well as recreation and wildlife viewing since the 1980s. 

Riders enjoys the Rosebery Bonanza Summit Trail

“Everybody loves rail trails!” said Mike Koolen, Trail Alliance Society president. “This section will provide the last link in the corridor that stretches between Nakusp, New Denver and beyond, used by locals and visitors year-round for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing, beach access and wildlife viewing. Including this trail in our local inventory will help us continue to promote our trails as a recreation destination and important wildlife corridor while providing people with an enhanced trail experience.”

The South Country Trails and Recreation Association is improving trails in the West Jaffray trail system by adding crushed rock in some often-muddy locations, buying a tool shed and purchasing trail-maintenance equipment like rakes, shovels, and wheelbarrows.

A family enjoys riding West Jaffay Trail

“We look forward to continuing to make our trail system as user-friendly and enjoyable to our community members as possible,” said Kristina Woodford, South Country Trail treasurer. “This project will enhance the usability and beauty of our newly-built trails so that school groups, seniors and people with differing abilities can use the trails and feel safe, all while promoting health and wellness in our community.”

“Columbia Basin residents have told us how important it is for them to be able to enhance local trails with flexible support. Together, these projects will give Columbia Basin residents and visitors access to even better and well-maintained trail systems as they experience the region’s incredible surroundings, while at the same time providing jobs,” said Cohen. “Getting outside can positively influence physical and mental health, and help us connect with nature, so trails can have wide-reaching impacts.”