Cash makes for happy trails

Kootenay Columbia Trails Society is preparing to connect East Trail to a complex series of recreation paths above the city.

All trails lead to Sunningdale this summer as the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society prepares to connect the East Trail neighbourhood to a complex series of recreation paths above the city.

The society will embark on finishing work on the 6.5-kilometre trek from Muriel Heights to Sunningdale after securing one third of the $15,000 needed for the project in the latest round of Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiative Funding.

Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS) president Isaac Saban said the work begins in September on the 2.5-km. stretch needed to complete the trail.

“All the feedback we received so far has been positive or we wouldn’t have been asking for money,” he said. “There are very few other places around that local governments see the real value for … public recreation access that sees huge usage.”

And the 145 kilometres of non-motorized trails around the area are well used from Fruitvale, Montrose, throughout Trail and into Warfield and Rossland.

In the last year there were 120,000 trail usages, with $85,000 in funding from local government, and through membership money, donations and other fund raising initiatives they have a budget of nearly $100,000.

Most of that money goes into staff wages, said Saban, with up to 12 people going full time on trail maintenance and building, depending on the size of the capital projects they undertake.

This summer, the society expects to have around four people going full time on the connector to Sunningdale.

They have to build the trail bed for the connector, although there are some existing trails in the area. The crews would use some of those beds and are upgrading them to KCTS standard of trail, meaning wider and better defined.

In other places they will be reducing the grade to handle water flow better.

“That would make it a more enjoyable experience for users in terms of slope and contour,” Saban said.

But the real work will still be in obtaining land access agreements from landowners since the new trail crosses private land in many spots. About 90 per cent of the trails under KCTS care cross private land and the society has insurance in place to cover the landowners.

There are repeated signs to remind people that the trails cross private land and to respect that, Saban noted.

Trails going online

Last fall a survey of the KCTS membership found that navigational aids would be the most useful addition to the society’s arsenal, meaning an upgrade to the website.

For the last three months the work has gone on behind the scene, Saban said, with all of the area’s trails being listed on the site. But rather than provide detailed descriptions of the trails — because some of them they are pieces of a greater series of trails — they will have recommended walks or rides on the site.

The site (http://www.kcts.ca/cms/index.php) will include elevation profiles of the trails, detailed topographic maps in pdf form, have uploaded pictures of trail features, and a brief set of directions to get to the trail head.

The society also received $600 to help offset the cost of the work to build the site.