The final phase of the trail project between Cranbrook and Wardner has received the funding it needs in order to be completed by the July 1, 2017 deadline.
A part of the Trans-Canada Trail network, the Cranbrook-Wardner Trail received funding from a number of different partners that should be enough to complete the project, according to Al Skucas, who is the project lead with Trails B.C.
This is really a big achievement because three months ago, we didn’t think we’d be able to get the money to complete this by next year,” said Skucas.
“So the opportunities with the Trans-Canada Trail and the Columbia Basin Trust has enabled us to complete this 40-kilometre project.
“…It means we can get it done. If you don’t think you can get it done, you’re always hesitant about actually tacking things on.”
Funding is coming in from a number of different sources, such as the Regional District of East Kootenay, Recreation Sites and Trails BC, Columbia Basin Trust, and the Trans-Canada Trail, that will go towards completing the roughly $1.3 million endeavour.
“This is exactly what we want,” said Sarah Meunier, the B.C. Trail Coordinator. “This project we see kind of as a poster child because it meets all of our criteria. It’s fully non-motorized, it’s accessible to everyone. It’ll be connecting into another non-motorized trail as well—the Northstar Rails 2 Trails—and it’s on schedule to be completed by July 1, 2017 of next year.”
The Trans-Canada Trail has been in development since 1992, with a goal of having a network in place by the country’s 150th anniversary. The Cranbrook to Wardner trail utilizes the Isadore Canyon trail to Mayook, then continues along an abandoned rail corridor to Wardner Provincial Park beside the Kootenay River, with a bypass
around private land in Mayook.
A connector trail will link the Cranbrook to Wardner trail with the rest stop on Highway 3 in Mayook known as the Ramparts Lake rest area.
“In the last couple of years approaching 2017, we’ve been able to raise a lot of funds and generate a lot of buzz about this trail,” said Meunier. “We’ve got some momentum going on right now and it’s exciting to see all these trail projects throughout B.C. simultaneously happening on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, West Kootenays, East Kootenays…we’ve got several projects on the go right now.”
Skucas is excited to see excitement building for the trail—especially since Cranbrook and the surrounding area embraced the Rails 2 Trails so warmly when it opened years ago.
“This trail is going to be a complement to the North Star Rails 2 Trails, which we already know is a popular trail,” Skucas said. “It’s going to offer something completely different. It’s going to make our region a destination trail region. It also gives opportunities for folks here to ride their bike, come out for a walk or ride their horse.
“It’s going to encourage people to a healthy, active lifestyle. It’s going to benefit the community on so many different levels.”
The trail cuts through rural tracts of crown and private land that ties in with some goals with the Regional District, according to Rob Gay, the chair of the board of directors.
“We have a sustainability plan and we talk about the economy and we’ve seen results from these trails that it brings in a number of people, and almost in all cases, it’s families that come to sure them,” said Gay.
“They come to use the trails, they stay in our motels, shop in our stores, so there’s an economic nature. We also have some goals around climate and energy, so this takes cars off the road, these are non-motorized trails, so people are walking, getting exercise, so from an environmental perspective, we see them as very useful.”