The intent of the Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance (CVGTA) Trails Vision is to assist the CVGTA in collaborating as a single entity in considering trail development in the area. The Trails Vision will summarize the voices of the CVGTA stakeholders and general public who took part in a preliminary survey; it will outline important factors in considering trail development; and it will provide suggestions for trail alignments, based on “What we Heard” through the development process. The intent of the Trails Vision is to address the forms of trails encompassed by the users of the CVGTA, including cross country skiing, hiking and interpretative trails, mountain bike and running trails, as well as trails intended for motorized use.
In addition to meeting the needs of the CVGTA, there are benefits to all residents in the Columbia Valley of the comprehensive trail network proposed by this Trails Vision. Studies have proven that dollars spent on a recreational trail system have a resulting reduction in health care costs, for the people who use the trails. Trails are not noted to be a great capital expense, and can actually be considered an investment in a region’s future health and well-being. In addition, the Trails Vision will provide validation that becoming a regional destination for trail use could help the area economically. Examples of recent studies that have considered economic impact of trails are as follows:
- A 2004 study estimated that property values in Marion County, Indiana increased by over $140 million due to the development of the Monon Trail system;
- The overall economic impact of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV, UTV, and off-road motorcycle trails in West Virginia was over $20 million in 2014
- Over $10 million was spent by mountain bike tourists alone in the Sea to Sky corridor of BC in 2006
- The local benefit of the four day World Cup cross country ski races to Canmore, AB in 2012 was estimated to be $2.41 million.
There is a multitude of studies corroborating the above information. It is this type of data that can assist various government bodies and local businesses in decision making.
The Trails Vision provides a collective set of goals and objectives for the direction that trail development should take over the course of the next number of years in the Columbia Valley. It is important that communities and stakeholders work together toward long-term goals in a strategic manner. In this way, the trail system will be developed to provide the best value for the community and region that it serves.