200 communities across Canada celebrated the completion of the Trans Canada Trail, Saturday. Pictured above, Fernie Trails Alliance President, Terry Nelson, cuts the ribbon, signifying the opening of the Elk Valley Trail, which connects Elko, Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Canada celebrates TCT completion

Two hundred communities around Canada participated in the opening of the Trans Canada Trail, Saturday August 26. Now connected, the great trail extends 24,000 km across Canada.

From Fernie, bikers rode to Hosmer, where they met riders from Sparwood. Family and friends in Elkford celebrated the opening of the trail with a ribbon cutting and scavenger hunt.

Christie McKee catered to approximately 120 riders who met in Hosmer, providing snacks, burgers, salads and refreshments.

The oldest rider on the trail that day was an 86-year-old who rode from Fernie, and the youngest was a six-year-old who also rode from Fernie.

The Trans Canada Trail was an idea started 25 years ago, nation-wide.

The Elk Valley Trail, also serving as a part of the Trans Canada Trail, now connects five communities on this 135km trail: Elko, Fernie, Hosmer, Sparwood and Elkford.

The Districts of Elkford and Sparwood, the City of Fernie and the Fernie Trails Alliance formed a partnership two years ago, working towards achieving the goal of connecting these communities via trail. Once all logistics and funding was completed, actual construction of the trail took eight months.

Substantial donations from the Columbia Basin Trust as well as the Trans Canada Trail foundation helped to fund the $860,000 trail. Teck Coal also gave a $1,000,000 donation to the Trans Canada Trail.

“This trail wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of all three communities and the groups that came forward to make this happen,” said Sparwood Director of Community and Facility Services, Duane Lawrence.

He also thanked all the landowners who allowed them to build this trail, from small land holders to large ones such as Jemi Fibre.

BC Trail Coordinator for TransCanada Trail foundation, Sarah Meunier, was very excited to be able to see the trail open on Saturday.

When she started with the foundation in the Kootenay’s, she was told to not waste her time in the Elk Valley.

“It’s was just too big of a challenge, so much trail to build, we would’ve needed a lot of money, and I was told to focus my energy in areas where it was more realistic to make progress.

“I just thought it would be worth giving it a try anyways…”

There were concerns that the majority of the trail would run on service roads. However, this is not the case. Only a small section of the trail in the Elk Valley is on dirt roads.

It was only 16 months ago that the Fernie Trails Alliance signed an agreement with the Trans Canada Trail foundation to start construction. With a long, cold winter and a wet spring, construction has been tricky.

“I’m amazed at what’s been accomplished,” said Meunier, admitting she had her doubts they would meet the July 2017 deadline.

“But I had a feeling the right people were taking this on,” she said.

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