By Clive Webber
Facilitator: Trans Canada Trail Foundation
Given the immense size of our country, it’s not surprising that some of our greatest legacies are the ones that have connected Canadians from far and wide; canoe routes, pack horse trails, our national railways, and the Trans Canada Highway are among the most spectacular and mind boggling of achievements. Continuing in this tradition, a new legacy is taking shape all across the country, in the form of a 24,000km recreational trail stretching between the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans and connecting nearly 1,000 communities: The Trans Canada Trail.
While it may not feel crowded along our province’s rail trails, even on a quiet day, you might just be sharing the trail with hundreds of thousands of other people and not even realize it. That’s because the Kettle Valley Railway, Columbia & Western Railway, the Salmo Great Northern Rail Trail and even the Galloping Goose Rail Trail and Cowichan Valley Trail on Vancouver Island are all former railways that are now part of the Trans Canada Trail. In fact, the provincial rail trail network makes up over 40 per cent of the Trail’s total length across Southern BC.
Initiated in 1992, the Trail has now been in existence for 22 years and Canadians from all walks of life and parts of this nation – from volunteers and private donors to major corporations – are pulling together to connect the Trail’s final and most challenging sections by 2017, in time for the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. In British Columbia, we’re about 77 per cent of the way there.
The Trans Canada Trail has developed an extensive B.C. Connection Plan, which proposes to connect the Trail route by facilitating improvements on existing trails, developing exciting new hiking and biking trails, as well as establishing government-endorsed road cycling routes where trail development is currently not feasible or sustainable. Finding willing partners – particularly local trail associations – to help develop and maintain the Trans Canada Trail is crucial. We are delighted to work with these partners, not just to make the Trail a reality by 2017, but as well to help build better communities through the development of non-motorized recreational trails. Great trails make for healthy communities!
What can you do to help?
Join your local trail association that stewards and advocates for your local segment of Trans Canada Trail, in order to assist in the maintenance and improvement of your local segment.
Contact our provincial advocacy group, Trails BC, to learn more about the gaps – and how you can help connect the Trail!
Trails BC recently launched its new website (trailsbc.ca), featuring digital mapping with not only the most detailed and up to date GPS tracks of the Trans Canada Trail across BC, but as well the locations of campsites, toilets, staging areas and points of interest along the way. Combined with the Kettle Valley Express magazine, you’ll have no trouble staying on course and finding plenty of interesting sights on your next adventure along the provincial rail trails!