The Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance is a trails advocacy group made up of seven local trail and stewardship groups including Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, Panorama Mountain Resort, Nipika Mountain Resort, and Village of Canal Flats. Since the inception of the Trails Vision project, a local motorized group, the Windermere Valley Dirt Riders has joined to Greenways.
There are a number of existing trails within the Columbia Valley, however, many of the existing trails are showing the classic signs of an area without a vision. A number are sanctioned by the government but the majority are non-sanctioned. While the trails partially serve the needs of the seasoned locals, there appears to be a general sense of the trails being hidden from authorities, land owners, and consequently tourists. As such, the trail system has minimal promotion or signage to find the trail networks or stay on them after they have been located. As many trails “just exist” on the landscape without clear designation or ownership, these trails are being used by all modes of transportation, leading to conflict and erosional issues. Consequently, as the specific needs of each user group are not being met, users go build their own “pirate trails” wherever they desire hiding from the authorities. For these reasons, there is a need to address the non-sanctioned trails through a proper Trails Master Planning Process – one of the primary goals of the Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance.
Based on the feedback from members of the Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance, we have developed some short, and long term goals for trails in the Valley.
i. Goal: Increase Education of Trail Users
The Trails Vision should recommend methods (short & long-term) to educate users on trail etiquette / enforcement of rules and respect for trails. This will in-turn increase the legitimacy of both the CVGTA and the Trails Vision.
ii. Goal: Create a ‘Trail Town’ Culture in the Columbia Valley
The Trails Vision should identify ways to educate area citizens, businesses, politicians, etc. on the benefits to the whole community of embracing a culture of being a ‘Trail Town’ community (economic spin-offs, social/cultural growth). This could specifically mean citing economic studies related to trails within the Trails Vision as well as identifying some common ‘messages’ that all groups can use. This should also include educating locals on the great trails in the area.
iii. Goal: Partnership and Collaboration
Create a Trails Vision that is supported by all trail groups and creates long-term partnerships and collaboration between all trail groups (including motorized and non-motorized).
iv. Goal: Consistent Trail Signage and Wayfinding
The Trails Vision should recommend creation of consistent signage and wayfinding for all trail types and users.
v. Goal: Improve Trailhead Facilities and Amenities
The Trails Vision should identify standards for improved trailhead facilities and amenities.
vi. Goal: Prioritization of New Trails or Formal Designation of Existing Trails & Anticipated Costs
The Trails Vision should work with all groups to prioritize future new trails to develop or sanctioning of existing non-sanctioned trails (immediate, short & long term priorities). Prioritization of new trails should address a spectrum of user types (beginning, intermediate, advanced) as well as different user groups (cycling, hiking,
running, walkers / families / strollers). The Trails Vision should identify approximate costs for new trails.
vii. Goal: Link all Geographic Areas / Create a Cohesive System in the Valley
The Trails Vision should make recommendations on how separated geographic areas (e.g. Nipika, Panorama, Invermere, Canal Flats, etc.) can be viewed as a cohesive system of complementary trail networks. The Trails Vision should identify ways for each area to provide great trail networks while creating a niche for each area that minimizes overlap with other areas.
viii. Goal: Identify a Framework for Sustainable Maintenance
The Trails Vision should make recommendations on the proper balance between creating new trails and being able to maintain existing sanctioned trails
In summary, the Greenways Trail Alliance is focused on the following:
- Improve maintenance of trails.
- Improve mapping and availability of trail’s information.
- Improved trail connectivity and access.
- Enhance tourism through marketing and economic development.
- Improve signage/wayfinding and user facilities.
- Accessible Trails for all ages and abilities.