A Vancouver Island-based organization has poured thousands of dollars of funding into the establishment of a new marine trail system.
Island Coastal Economic Trust recently announced that they have provided $30,000 in funding to the British Columbia Marine Trails Network Association.
The money, which came from ICET’s Economic Development Readiness Program, will be used help fund the Salish Sea Marine Trail Project, a 257-kilometre marine trail running from Victoria to West Vancouver via Nanaimo, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast.
John Kimantas, project manager, said the trail will be going through the territories of 20 First Nations including the Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations and that the new funds will help cover consulting costs and any potential archeological assessments that may need to be done.
“We are going through traditional territories of 20 First Nations and we want to make sure they are all consulted and appraised of the trail, the locations that we are anticipating using. So, it is a fairly involved referral process with all 20 First Nations,” he said. “In addition to that we are looking at the possibility of some archeological assessments that need to be done, which naturally aren’t cheap.”
Once completed, the 257-kilometre marine trail will be part of the Trans-Canada Trail and will feature numerous recreation and launch points, including Newcastle Island and Gabriola’s Descanso Bay.
Kimantas said his organization plans to include information about First Nations history and culture at some stops along the trail. He said a portion of the $30,000 donation will also go towards funding a small tourism campaign.
“We want to be able to promote the trail,” he said. “We don’t just want it to be dots on a map. We want to have a plan to let people know about it.”
Kimantas said his organization had applied for $50,000 in funds from the federal government’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, but were rejected.
“We will manage and it won’t affect the trail,” he said.
The trail is expected to officially open sometime in the summer according to Kimantas, who said an official ceremony for September is being planned.
“What we want to do is have a major flotilla of kayakers … and one of the places we are looking at is Newcastle Island,” he said. “This would be probably the middle of September. It will be a huge event.”