Former Fruitvale mayor donates land for more trails

Libby Nelson has donated 95 acres of undeveloped land in hopes it will be developed for bike and hiking trails

Libby Nelson has always enjoyed the view from the top – of a mountain, that is.

Now the former Fruitvale mayor is paying it forward with a generous land donation to the Beaver Valley Recreation, Parks and Trails committee.

She’s no longer living in the area. But the doting grandmother returned to town last week and formally handed over 95 acres of undeveloped property with hopes that hiking and biking trails will be further advanced on the high peaks behind Montrose.

“It doesn’t have road access which is a bit of a handicap,” Nelson said by phone from her Pitt Meadows home.  “To be honest, I bought it years ago because I always loved the view and in my dream world, I hoped maybe someone, someday, would build a restaurant there,” she laughed. “But the world moves on and I was just happy that the trails people can use it and others can get up there to enjoy the view.”

Nelson suggests the name ‘Columbia Ridge’ be attached to the large chunk of land that begins at 12th Avenue in Montrose and runs upward into the regional district’s Area A.

The Beaver Valley committee has met to discuss the benevolent donation and although it’s too early to detail any plans, Nelson looks forward to hearing about future trail development.

“When I was leaving town, it seemed the right thing to do,” she added. “I hope people will enjoy it.”

Prior to Nelson’s gift of land, the BV committee had considered purchasing the property to expand its trail systems, explained Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini.

“For about six months we’ve been working on the legal documentation for this extremely generous donation.  Our trail system will be enhanced because the land gives us much more accessibility to create biking and hiking trails for recreation.”

The donated land has housed the popular Antenna Trail since 2005, and has led to discussion on creating more parks and hiking trails across the region.

“Libby Nelson has been very cooperative since we anticipated building the Antenna Trail in 2005,” explained Art Benzer, a member of the Antenna Trail group. “The land owners agreement is good for five years and she was very generous and signed another in 2010,” he explained. “She’s been very appreciative that we’ve developed the system to where it is now.”

The old trail with spectacular views of the Columbia River valley was developed for local hikers by a group of enthusiastic outdoorsmen with help from the Montrose Youth Action team and a B.C. Forest Service fire crew.

Kootenay Columbia Trails Society took the trail under its wing and added it to the growing list of newly-developed trails in the area.

A sign-in box, added in 2010, recorded up to 700 hikers that year, growing to nearly double the following year and up to 2,000 signatures by this March.

Benzer has been committed to the development of this trail over the years, which has included the addition of the flag pole viewpoint, a re-purposed Cominco Arena bench for taking in views of the Rossland Range from the flag and a sign to clarify and identify the range’s 11 peaks.

Last spring, the popular hike was turned into a loop trail with the addition of the new Old Orchard arm, which runs from the flagpole toward the end of 12 Avenue.

“Libby was a long term mayor who not only dedicated much of her life to community service, but has been generous in many other ways,” said Ali Grieve, Area A director. “This is a great piece of news for our region.”

Former Fruitvale Mayor Libby Nelson held her seat from 1996 through 2011. She was the first female Mayor of Fruitvale (which was incorporated in 1952) following 10-years of service on the school board. She sat as a Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Director for Fruitvale and was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, the Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and received the Province of BC Community Achievement Award in 2013. Nelson retired from public office in November 2011.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay communities like Rossland are transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. Photo: Mathew Roland/BBJ
Rossland commits to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050

“It’s a really unique plan, and we have to go forward, we have to go to a low carbon future.”

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

RCMP responded to a report early Friday morning of a suspect firing a gun at a Salmo home. Photo: Black Press
RCMP arrest woman who fired shots at Salmo home

The woman allegedly discharged a firearm early Friday morning

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read