District considers partnership with Trail Alliance

The Shuswap Trail Alliance is seeking a $30,000 commitment over the next three years from the District of Sicamous.

The Shuswap Trail Alliance is seeking a $30,000 commitment over the next three years from the District of Sicamous for maintenance and/or construction of local trail infrastructure.

Council received the request in a letter from Shuswap Trail Alliance chair Winston Pain. Included with the letter was a copy of the alliance’s three-year operational plan, which Pain provided to the district for review and input.

Speaking to the request, $10,000 over three years from the district, Pain says this would be matched by $90,000 from other core partners to advance the regional trail strategy.

“Leadership throughout the Shuswap has worked hard to put shape to this plan linking each of our communities under a united trails strategy – one that builds on our regional identity as a centre for active healthy living connected to our natural environment, while serving local partners,” writes Pain.

The letter notes how, since 2006, the Alliance has leveraged more than $1.5 million in new infrastructure, including the Larch Hills Traverse and Sicamous switchbacks ($360,000), Sicamous Creek Falls and Eagle River Nature Trails upgrades ($67,000) and annual trail stewardship/maintenance ($60,000).

The funding requested from Sicamous and partners would go towards: ongoing trail stewardship, local greenway priorities, including Highway 97A and the Bayview lookout, destination trail priorities including the Joss, Anstey and Perry River trails, new destination programming and guide content with Shuswap Tourism, and the anticipated Sicamous to Grindrod rail-trail corridor, expected to cost at least $750,000.

Coun. Don Richardson was initially reluctant to support the request, noting Sicamous has other priorities to contend with. Coun. Fred Busch then argued in favour of the partnership.

“I think this is also an investment in our program of trying to enhance some of the infrastructure in our community to make it desirable for people to come here,” said Busch. “It’s not just for the sake of beautifying or something like that. It’s something that would bring some benefit to the community, so I’m rather reluctant to just throw it out.”

Couns. Joan Thomson and Terry Rysz added their voices in favour of the proposal.

Coun. Greg Kyllo, acting as deputy mayor, agreed with points from both sides, then said what he liked about the program is the potential for Sicamous to leverage funding.

“For us to undertake any of these projects on our own would cost us five or six times as much,” said Kyllo. “We’ve got a fairly reasonable parks and rec budget, we’re undertaking a new trail along Highway 97A to the tune of $150,000 this year. Finding $10,000 out of our budget moving forward, I don’t see it being too challenging.”

Community planning officer Mike Marrs then suggested some of the funding might be covered by development cost charges.

“We have a sizeable amount of money sitting there that hasn’t really been utilized,” replied Kyllo, who then asked district administrator Heidi Frank if the funding could be from somewhere other than the district grant-in-aid budget. Frank said staff needed to look at whether those funds would go into the district. Council then chose to defer the matter, allowing staff time to gather additional information.