By Steve Hubrecht
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is keen to create more trails, but wants public feedback on how best to go about it. To that end, the RDEK has launched an online survey.
The trails would be part of that Columbia Valley Active Transportation Plan that the regional government is working to develop.
What kind of trails, and where would they be? Well, that’s what the RDEK wants to find out from Columbia Valley residents.
“Personally I think active transport is something people really want. That’s what I’m hearing on the ground. But we need to validate that through this survey and to find out where we can have the biggest impact,” RDEK Area F director Susan Clovechok told the Pioneer last week.
Active transportation includes any type of human-powered transportation, such as walking, biking, skateboarding, in-line skates, as well as wheelchairs or other wheel-based forms of human-powered self-propulsion.
Clovechok emphasized that such alternative methods of transportation are important and need to be accessible to everyone.
The survey will help inform the plan as will input from a technical committee. The planning process should be finished some time in early 2024. The resulting plan will provide a long-term framework on how best to connect the Columbia Valley’s communities and is meant to help the RDEK prioritize projects.
“It’s exciting. Ideally we’d be able to connect Spillimacheen to Canal Flats. But we need the input and the support of residents,” said Clovechok. “We want to know how people are using active transportation, what is their preferred mode of active transportation, how far do they go, where do they go, what improvements do they want to see, and what challenges are there stopping people from using active transportation.”
While connecting the entire Columbia Valley through a trail network would be amazing, Clovechok did concede that would take “a lot of time and a lot of money. That’s why it has to be a phased approach. If we have a plan in place, when funding opportunities come up, we’re ready and we can hit send and go for those opportunities. Will it take 20 to 25 years to make it happen? Who knows, that will depend on what funding opportunities do come up. We need to make sure what we do makes sense.”
RDEK Area G director Roberta Schnider said, “We want to hear from as many residents and trail users in the Columbia Valley as possible. Public engagement in the survey and throughout the planning process is extremely important as residents have the most knowledge on how the trails are currently used and what future opportunities could look like.”
Schnider told the Pioneer that “not only are we connecting communities in the Columbia Valley, we are promoting a healthy lifestyle and emitting less carbon into the atmosphere. When I was out campaigning (during the municipal election) one of the topics was bike paths for Area G. This could be one of the pieces in that puzzle. Imagine a path (or) plan that connects communities from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats and includes Wilmer and Panorama (and) what that could do for recreation, work force and with zero emissions? Amazing.”
The survey runs until Oct. 16. To access the survey and to find out more about the project, visit engage.rdek.bc.ca/ActiveTransportationCV. If you don’t have access to a computer, hard copies are available at the RDEK’s Columbia Valley office.