Rugged terrain, private property impasses and high costs have been obstacles to the Silver City becoming a stopover on Canada’s coast-to-coast trail.
But everything remains on track for Trail to be part of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) that, when fully connected, will stretch 23,000 kilometres to connect every province and territory on a recreational pathway for walking, running, hiking and bicycling.
The goal is to have the country linked from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Arctic Oceans by the world’s longest network of multi-use trails in time to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
Connecting the Kootenays has been a windy endeavour that hit some roadblocks after routes and priorities changed after the TCT project first began 22 years ago.
Recently city council, the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS), and others involved in project development, expressed concern that Trail could be bypassed on the TCT route.
The trail was originally mapped to come through the city, explained David Perehudoff, adding that securing right-of-ways, liabilities and finalizing the route through town put the city’s mark on the TCT into question.
“With the high turnover of TCT managers . . . there was consideration to bypass Trail,” continued the city’s chief administrative officer. “There were plans for it to go east up towards Fruitvale but now this seems to have changed.”
After exchanging correspondence with the TCT development manager for western and northern Canada, he said keeping the city in the loop is now a priority for the trail’s planners.
“It sounds like everything is back on track and council expressed their support for the trail and emphasized they want the Trans Canada Trail coming through the city,” he added.
Another development in the TCT plan is the possibility of including the pedestrian/pipe bridge on the route should the initiative pass in the Aug. 23 referendum.
“We would ensure this becomes an integral part of the trail,” Perehudoff noted. “Coming down from Rossland through Columbia Heights, you would link up to the pedestrian bridge and either proceed through to Gyro and on to Sunningdale or east towards Fruitvale if an alternate route is developed that would merge the two trails with the main TCT in and around the Nelson area.”
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.
Unfinished sections remain between Trail and the Beaver Valley and out to Salmo, where the trail picks up on an old rail grade up to Nelson along the Great Northern Rail Trail.
The network of walking and biking pathways above Miral Heights and East Trail has seen growing use since it’s inception in 2011 and the addition of a new section above Sunningdale last year expanded the available tracks considerably.
KCTS, the local organization responsible for the planning, building, and maintenance of the extensive system, has plans to extend the existing section from Miral Heights to eventually join up with the Sunningdale trail.
The combined Miral Heights/Bluff trail currently runs six kilometres across the eastern side of the Columbia River Valley with the expectation that the extension to the Sunningdale trail will eventually total almost nine kilometres.
Teck Resources donated $1 million to the TCT foundation on Canada Day 2012, to complete the Kootenay portion of the line’s unfinished section between Trail, Nelson, Salmo and Kimberley thorough to Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford.