Around 50 people, including Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor, most of council, and Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson, gathered outside Roxul for a sod turning ceremony to kick off the first phase of the Grand Forks portion of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail, which is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
Phase one includes putting in a new paved surface for a 1.8 kilometre section of the trail from 68th Avenue in Grand Forks (by Roxul) to the Nursery Trestle.
The upgrade is part of a partnership between the Province and the City of Grand Forks for a 17-kilometre trail enhancement project from Grand Forks to Christina Lake. Phase one is expected to be completed this fall.
“This is the official opening of the trail head,” said Taylor. “The trails society has been pushing for paving this section from here to the trestle bridge. City council has approved the additional expenditure and we’re celebrating here today.”
Funding for phase one includes $100,000 from the Province’s Recreation Sites and Trails BC program for site and trail maintenance and improvements and $118,000 from the City of Grand Forks. The Grand Forks Community Trails Society and the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary have been major players in getting the project to the final stages as well.
“Trails are a very important part of our pedestrian community,” said Taylor. “They’re also a big draw for tourists. People come from a long way to use our trails. I also think it’s great that we have a community that is looking at multiple uses for the trail rather than restricting usage. I’m hoping this is the beginning of a well used trail all the way to Christina Lake.”
Larson, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Boundary-Similkameen, travelled from her home in Oliver to attend the sod turning ceremony.
“Anytime we do things to allow people to get outside and get exercise and fresh air, that’s a huge positive,” she said. “And anytime you pave something like this, you make it accessible to seniors or people with disabilities who might not otherwise get a chance to get out here. Anything we can do to help people live healthier and longer – is great.”
Chris Moslin, chair of the Grand Forks Trail Society, was happy to see the project underway.
“The society’s main goals are to enhance recreational opportunities for citizens of all abilities and to provide vital corridors between Grand Forks and the surrounding community,” he said. “This project is an example of how common vision is helping us accomplish those goals.”