By Timothy Schafer
Teck Resources has upped the ante for Canada Day stakes with a $1 million investment to complete the region’s section of the Trans Canada Trail.
The Kootenay portion of the line has been languishing for several years.
However, Teck’s donation will specifically help complete those forlorn sections linking Trail, Nelson, Salmo, Kimberley through to Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford.
Richard Deane, Teck manager of environment, health and safety and public affairs, said the new trail would complement the existing network of trails being developed in the Kootenays.
“Although Trans Canada Trail will direct the work, we’re confident the donation will go a long way towards completing the portion of the trail from Trail through to Elkford,” he said. “And completion of the Trans Canada Trail through this area will provide connectivity of that network with other neigbouring communities, as well as building on the area we have.”
The Trans Canada Trail begins its Kootenay-Boundary journey to the west of Trail in Christina Lake, follows a rail grade up and over the Paulson Summit to Castlegar, then travels from Castlegar to Trail down the east side of the Columbia River on a section called the Columbia River Trail.
From Trail the Trans Canada will be completed to the Beaver Valley and out to Salmo, where it picks up on an old rail grade up to Nelson along the Great Northern Rail Trail, along the West Arm of Kootenay Lake and over Kootenay Lake to Gray Pass and then to the East Kootenay.
Nelson and the West Arm also contain some sections that need to be completed, as well as within Kimberley and Cranbrook.
But one of the key first steps to trail building is land access, said Deane, getting the right to put a trail across private land.
“A lot of the land needed for the trail is private land so (negotiations) can often take time,” he said. “In getting that access in place, once it is there you can proceed quite quickly with trail construction.”
There are many Teck employees that live in and work throughout the Kootenays, and the trail will touch them all, said Deane.
“This is an investment that connects those communities, and it will provide recreation opportunities for everybody in the Kootenays and for visitors,” he said.
The Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of recreational trails. The B.C. section of the trail is 76 per cent complete.
Teck joins other Chapter 150 donors who are committed to connecting the Trail by Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
When fully connected, the Trans Canada Trail will stretch 23,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic Oceans, linking 1,000 communities and more than 34 million Canadians.
Today, more than 16,800 kilometres of trail are developed and used by millions of Canadians and international visitors to hike, cycle, cross country ski, horseback ride, canoe and snowmobile.
For more information about the Trans Canada Trail, visit www.tctrail.ca.