Work is underway to connect Grand Forks to Christina Lake with development of the Cascade Kettle River Heritage Trail.
The goal of the Grand Forks Community Trails Society is to develop trails around the area and hopes to connect the 17.5 kilometres between Grand Forks to Christina Lake with an accessible trail as a part of the continuing Trans Canada Trail. The trail would also cross through the Boothman’s Oxbow Provincial Park and the Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park.
“The Grand Forks Trails Society is creating a vision for the community,” explained Chris Moslin, chair of the Grand Forks Community Trails Society.
“It’s really a stretch of land that the community knows really well because there’s a lot of history and a lot of folklore associated with this route.”
Broken into three stages, the first stage starting from 68th Avenue has already begun with the help of Roxul, which has been updating its parking lot and the path behind their property.
“It’s all about the process; every process has a timeline, intake and rules,” Moslin said.
“With the construction of Roxul’s parking lot and the leveling – (it’s) pretty committed to developing that area. It looks all right now but in 20 years there will be bushes and plants and a really nice entrance and parkway off of 68th.”
The first stage, beginning at 68th Avenue will continue up until Nursery Trestle and is estimated to cost around $101, 640.
The second stage will continue from Nursery Trestle up through Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park at the estimated cost of $1,029,900, and the final stage will be from the Gilpin area to Cascade Gorge Trestle at the estimated cost of $416,700.
There will be various donors and funding through each of the three stages, including the City of Grand Forks, Roxul, Trans Canada Trail, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Areas C and D, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations and the federal government.
Estimated costs have taken into account: engineering (at $25,000), gates and traffic control to install for $35,000 (for 10 gates at $3,000), control of organics for $6,000, soil sterilizant at $20,000, and subgrade preparation for $24,000.
Grand Forks Community Trails Society director George Longden added there is also the possibility of funding from the gas tax funding from the city or regional district next year.
“This is the kind of project that gas tax money is supposed to be spent on: things that are green initiative and will reduce carbon emissions, gets people out of cars and moving,” Longden said. “Gas tax money is an option that the city and regional district have, which is to spend the money on this kind of initiative. The beauty of this money is that if you have the commitment from the local government of those kinds of funds, you can leverage the money with the province or the federal government.”
Mayor Brian Taylor, though fully supportive of the idea, is wary about the timing.
“We need to look at some other priorities at this time and balance off some of the benefits for this particular project,” said Taylor. “I’m not sure the timing is off for this, but the trail society is very proactive and may find funding for this. In terms of the city’s responsibility, the society is asking us to support it at this time.”
Taylor noted there is a section of the trail that they would have to contribute funding to, but when it will happen will be decided in the budget process.
“This is a long-term project and we’re all in it for the long run,” he added. “It will be a big tourist draw and I like that it makes it available to people with mobility problems.”
The trail itself will be accessible to people of all ages, whether on mobility devices or bikes, for runners and walkers, and currently equestrians.
“At this moment it is open to horses, most of (the trail) is 66 feet wide (20 metres), which is the standard for railroad trails,” said Longden. “That’s wide enough for what we call a braided trail. For people who are on mobility devices, biking or running, or just walking, they can use the paved part. If necessary we can mow a section alongside for the equestrians. We are trying to involve everyone, from equestrians to the ATV club.”
Moslin pointed out asphalt has been chosen for the trails because of its durability and cost efficiency. After it cures, the asphalt is inert with the environment, prevents grass growth and is easy to maintain.
“There are also two to three possibilities for tubing stations to be set up where people can be dropped off during the summer months to enjoy the river,” said Moslin.
Longden hopes that the entire trail will be complete by 2017 to coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary.
For more information, visit gftrails.ca or the group’s Facebook page, Grand Forks Cascade Kettle River Heritage Trail.