The Shuswap Trail Alliance is reaching out for provincial funding in hopes of further improving the trail system in the Shuswap.
Trail Alliance executive director Phil McIntyre-Paul said they are either seeking funding or supporting another group’s application for six projects.
The funding is being requested through the B.C. government’s Rural Dividend, an economic development initiative providing $25 million per year.
McIntyre-Paul said the Trail Alliance is seeking rural dividend funding for the Rocky Road Trail in the hills above Chase.
Funding is also being sought for a whole new set of trails expanding the South Canoe trail network.
Near Malakwa, a new trail branching off the North Fork Wild trail system is being planned.
The new trail will follow the remnants of an historic pack trail which McIntyre-Paul said once led to an old fire lookout in the area.
He said when the trail is completed, it will finish in a great view of the river valley below.
Another Trail Alliance project which will benefit from the rural dividend funding is the Larch Hills traverse. The traverse is a 38-kilometre route which runs through the Larch Hills between Sicamous and Salmon Arm.
McIntyre-Paul said a significant portion of the route uses existing forestry roads, but each year the Trail Alliance adds to the off-road trail in hopes of making the traverse single track.
There are plans to tie the traverse into the Sicamous to Armstrong rail trail, a project which plans to convert the old CP rail corridor between Sicamous and Armstrong into a recreational multi-use trail. McIntyre-Paul said the present grant application does not cover the connection to the rail trail because there are lots of unanswered questions arising from the four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway and the replacement of the Bruhn Bridge at the west end of Sicamous.
“All of that will get reconfigured and sorted out in the next year or two as the highway twinning happens and as the rail trail starts to get developed,” he said.
All four trail expansion projects are part of a regional trail strategy and so McIntyre-Paul said they can be submitted to the government as one application.
“It’s an example of how working together really works,” he said.
McIntyre-Paul said while there is a good strong chance they will get the grants, there is no guarantee because plenty of other deserving projects around the province will be applying for the funding.
He said they are applying for $100,000 of funding for each of the trail projects, which are expected to cost 130-$140,000 each.
McIntyre-Paul said they will hear back about their application in three or four months.
“Provincially and federally there is a strong appetite to support these rural healthy community projects that stand a really strong chance of not just benefiting the communities from a social point of view and a health point of view but from an economic development point of view as well,” he said.