A 21-week trail project will provide immediate employment to four Indigenous people who will help develop a multi-use trail on Jesmond Mountain, southwest of Clinton.
The B.C. government is providing more than $75,000 through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships program toward the project with Stswecem’c Xgat’tem Development Corporation Limited (SXDC).
“I’m really excited this is moving forward,” says managing consultant Thomas Schoen, who is the CEO of First Journey Trails.
“Because of COVID-19 we were delayed for a long time, but we still have enough time to construct one of the proposed trails.”
The job-creation partnership project will result in the four trainees being provided with the skills and experience they need from mid-August through Dec. 18 to become trail-crew professionals. Through in-class training they will also increase their opportunities for future employment, with transferable skills in forestry and fire suppression.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Schoen adds. “It’s been a seven- to eight-month lead-up in planning time to set up a job creation partnership program and work with Rec Sites and Trails to get the necessary permits.”
Once complete, the approximately six-kilometre, multi-use trail will provide users of the various rec sites within the area, as well as Big Bar Guest Ranch, with a single trek hiking trail to the Jesmond fire lookout tower.
Mountain bikers will also be able to use the trail as a downhill riding path from the Jesmond mountaintop.
“Being able to provide important and meaningful skill enhancement to people who need it, while also improving public spaces, is a win for everyone involved,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, in a news release. “I look forward to seeing the results of their work.”
SXDC general manager Clayton Harry said SXDC is excited about the project which they believe will support the Big Bar Guest Ranch they had purchased one and a half years ago.
“This is the first of this type of project for us, but we view it as a start,” Harry said.
“We have done work in the area on the snowmobile trails and hiking trails in the Big Bar area.”
Besides being involved with the tourism industry through Big Bar Guest Ranch, which has provided accommodations and meals to crews working at the site of the Big Bar landslide, SXDC is also very active in the forest industry.
“We look to play a role in the local economy any way we can,” Harry said.
“You can expect to see a lot more from us in the future.”