The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is hoping to expand on its low mobility trail network and is applying for federal funding to complete three new projects in the Cariboo, including one at the Esler Sports Complex.
At their Sept. 11 board meeting, CRD directors approved a request from staff to submit an application for $336,000 to the Canada Infrastructure Program for trail development in the region.
“The Regional District has embraced creating a wheelchair accessible trails network in the Cariboo Chilcotin to increase outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all mobility levels and to create a niche market for tourism to help diversify the local economy,” noted Darron Campbell, CRD community services manager, in a presentation given to the CRD CAO and board.
“Primarily through external funding from the Government of British Columbia, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and Cariboo Strong, 25 wheelchair accessible wilderness trails have been completed since 2008 and three more are currently in development in 2020 with $130,000 in support from Rural Dividend and NDIT grants.”
Campbell said the three new proposed trail projects for the CCR grant program would be significantly larger in scope than previous projects completed by the CRD, but with the same low-mobility, universal access concept.
The locations include Pioneer Park on Dragon Lake near Quesnel, the Esler Sports Complex just outside of Williams Lake and the 108 Greenbelt. The combined projects will provide about eight kilometres of trail works, along with improvements for parking, signage, toilets and potentially wheelchair-friendly fishing platforms.
“These properties were selected in part because the Region owns the lands and has direct or partnership arrangements for maintenance, which makes investments on this scale more feasible,” Campbell noted.
The total cost for the three projects is $458,200, and the remainder of the funding will come from the North, Central, and South Cariboo Recreation Leisure Service 2021 budget.
The Esler proposal would see three-and-a-half kilometres of low mobility trail located in and around the sports complex. The plan is to construct the trail to low mobility standards, install six new and replacement outhouses, 12 benches and four look out platforms.
Estimated cost for the project is $131,900.
Near Quesnel, Pioneer Park is owned by the CRD and the City of Quesnel. The park land was donated by the Cariboo Farmers Institute and the Dragon Lake Women’s Institute in 1988 for recreational purposes and for the enjoyment of the community, according to a memo to the board.
Pioneer Park is currently home to two non-profit organizations, the Quesnel River Archers and the Dragon Lake Paddlers. The Quesnel River Archers hold a a variety of archery competitions at the park each year and have been recognized as the caretakers of the park since 1995. The Dragon Lake Paddlers also have gate access and utilize the road to access their boat storage building on the shores of Dragon Lake, according to the memo.
Proposed work includes building a new parking that meets the standards for low mobility use, building an accessible fishing dock, making upgrades to the shelter, decommissioning two outhouses and building three new outhouses — one of which will be for low mobility users, improving existing trails and building a new low mobility trail.
Near 100 Mile House, the 108 Mile Greenbelt proposed low mobility upgrades will see two-and-a-half kilometres of improved trail.
The project calls for constructing the trail to low mobility standards, installation of four new or replacement outhouses, a look out platform and widening of the trail for benches every 300 metres, with seven benches total.
The existing parking lot will also see upgrades.
The CRD celebrated the opening of two new low mobility wilderness trails at Hotnarko Falls and Nimpo Lake, and a third accessible trail was set to open this month at the Bullion Pit historic site near Likely. These three new locations bring the CRD’s network of low mobility trails to 28 sites.
With a file from Lindsay Chung – Quesnel Observer