A group of stakeholders are hoping to make the Trans Canada Trail between Grand Forks and Christina Lake designated non-motorized.
The Grand Forks Community Trails Society (GFCTS) has already begun the process and met with the Grand Forks ATV Club and the owner/manager of the trails: Rec Sites and Trails, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO).
Stakeholders in the process gathered on April 17 for a meeting, which was moderated by Wendy McCulloch.
Attending the meeting were: McCulloch, Community Futures; Tennessee Trent, MFLNRO Rec Sites and Trails; Ed Smith, mayor of Greenwood; Sarah Meunier, Trans Canada Trail; Doug Zorn, GFATV; Ray Johnson, GFATV; Barb Stewart, Boundary Invasive Species Society; Chris Moslin, Grand Forks Community Trails Society; George Longden, GFCTS; Vicki Gee, Area E Director, RDKB; Justin Dexter, MFLNRO Recreation; Sasha Bird, City of Grand Forks; James Wilson, BCRCC; Dolores Sheets, City of Grand Forks; Don Frew, ATVBC; Terry Wardrop, Quad Riders of B.C.; Ryan Elphick, BC Parks; Ross Elliot, Midway Trails, Kettle River Trails, Trails to the Boundary Society; Donna Dean, RDKB; Cavin Gates, Christina Gateway; Grace McGregor, Area C director, RDKB; and Roly Russell, Area D director, RDKB.
GFCTS president Chris Moslin said the purpose of the meeting was to gauge local support for designating a section of rail trail (Kettle River Heritage Trail) as non-motorized; to discuss opportunities for partnership or stewardship of the rail trails in RDKB and to look at management of the rail trails in other jurisdictions.
“After reviewing the background history of the Trans Canada Trail in the province and the Boundary, the presenter (Tennessee Trent of Rec Sites and Trails) examined the trail management systems including the agreement between the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen,” said Moslin. “The (people at the) meeting were also informed about the legislation that governs the management of the trail. It was made clear to (those in attendance) that if there was public support, the government would designate the trail non-motorized and enforce the compliance.”
The Kettle River Heritage Trail (KRHT) is the proposed paving upgrade of the Trans Canada Trail from Grand Forks to Christina Lake in three phases. Phase 1 (paved section from Roxul to the Nursery Trestle) was completed in 2013; phase 2 is 7.1 kilometres from Nursery Trestle to Gilpin Creek; Phase 3 is 8.3 kilometres from Gilpin Creek to west side of Cascade Trestle.
“Having non-motorized designation would bring provincial and federal funding, improve access to two new provincial parks and create a designated highway pull-out for a new day use park at Gilpin Creek,” said Moslin. “Designation would require local elected officials to write a letter of support for non-motorized designation to Rec Sites and Trails. Rec Sites and Trails would need to hold public meetings in the area.”
Moslin added that it would be up to Rec Sites and Trails to make the designation and enforce the non-motorized rule.
Moslin said three decisions came out of the meeting: 1. That local governments would write a letter of support for the designation of the KRHT section of the Trans Canada Trail as non-motorized, 2. That local government would make trails a priority through the Boundary Economic Development Committee; and 3. That the region would move to apply for significant federal funding in a January 2016 intake of the Strategic Priorities Fund.
“We believe that if we put this amount of money into this development to pave the trail it will have a significant economic impact on the whole region,” said Moslin. “It’ll bring more investment and care for all our trails—the Trans Canada Trail and the backcountry trails. We have a wealth of that kind of resource that really is something we can share.”
Moslin said that the Grand Forks ATV Club is in support of the non-motorized designation.
“They see the economic and community benefits,” he said. “Basically, they already built parallel trails on the other side of the highway. They are partners on board.”
Doug Zorn, vice-president of the GFATV, said he was at a meeting of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen when they had overtaken the management of the Trans Canada Trail in that area and was very impressed with the organization and management.
“I talked to Chris (Moslin) and Tennessee Trent when I got back and suggested we have a meeting of the government officials who were involved and see what they thought of that kind of a commitment from the regional district,” said Zorn. “As well, Chris wanted to put through the idea of a non-motorized trail from Cascade west to Nursery Bridge.”
Zorn said the GFATV feels that the area of the Trans Canada Trail is very sensitive and there are enough other great trails to ride.
“What the club did put forward at the meeting is that we would like to see a permitted ride for educational purposes once a year,” he said. “We would go through the area and point out the Oxbows and the benefits of the grassland parks and of the area itself and gain useful knowledge in the wildlife and the environment.”
Grace McGregor, Area C/Christina Lake director and RDKB board chair, said it was a really good meeting.
“A lot of people have done a lot of work,” she said. “We need to work together—that was what the message was. Most of us are willing to go there.”
McGregor agreed that having the KVHT trails non-motorized was a good idea because of the abundance of other ATV trails.
“All in all, the meeting itself, I think, was a whole group of trail users from the area working together—and I think the message was a really good one,” she said.
McGregor did say she is not in favour of paving the Christina Lake section of the trail.
“Christina Lake Parks and Rec have been pretty clear that they’re not in favour of paving that,” she said. “I haven’t brought that up to them this year but we could have that conversation. I won’t put up money to have a trail paved right now…what I’ve heard is a lot of areas that have that paved trail for a while the weeds come right through. When that happens you’ve got an even bigger issue because the pavement starts to crack. So I don’t think that’s the total answer we need yet.”