One of the Cariboo Regional District’s trails. (Catherine Norman photo)

One of the Cariboo Regional District’s trails. (Catherine Norman photo)

CRD gives final approval for three new wheelchair-accessible trails

The CRD secured $100,000 through a rural dividend grant and matched an additional $30,000

At the Cariboo Regional District’s (CRD) monthly meeting on Friday, May 29 the board approved the request of $30,000 from the Cariboo Strong grant to be allocated to the South Cariboo Wheelchair Accessible Wilderness Trails project.

The approval comes after the South Cariboo Joint Committee voted in favour of it in the second half of May and supplements funds raised when the CRD submitted a rural dividend grant application in August of 2019 for $100,000 to support the development of three new wheelchair accessible wilderness trails, intended to expand the existing network in the region. These proposed trails included in the application were at locations throughout the South Cariboo including in Forest Grove, the Mountain Spruce Community Park on Mahood Lake Road and the Valentine Lake recreation site.

Consistent with previous rural dividend submissions made by the CRD for trail development efforts the project has a total budget of $130,000. As always when developing low-mobility trail systems, the CRD said they have community partners involved who will support the ongoing maintenance of these trails moving forward including the Forest Grove and District Recreation Society, the Mountain Spruce Community Centre Society and Rec Sites and Trails BC for Valentine Lake.

However, this funding almost was not secured as the Province announced that the rural dividend program for 2020 was cancelled in an effort to direct the funding instead towards communities impacted by mill closures that have resulted in the major downturn of the forest sector in recent month. Luckily, in April of 2020, the CRD received notice that the trails application had been reconsidered as an important economic development and recovery project related to the Covid-19 situation. Subsequently, the request for $100,000 has been approved with project implementation to be completed by March of 2023.

The CRD, in order to proceed with the project and the full development plan, has decided that $30,000 in matching funding will be required and staff have identified the South Cariboo allocation of the Cariboo Strong program as an excellent opportunity to secure this funding. It originated as a $133,000 contribution from the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition and was targeted at trail development and other economic development planning activities.

As of this decision, $47,360 of the South Cariboo funding has been allocated and $84,640 remains to support appropriate projects as the CRD sees fit.