By Andrew Mitchell
The Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts has increased its annual budget to upgrade and maintain recreation sites and trails by $1 million, it was announced Tuesday.
The boost in funding is in recognition of increased usage and the needs of user groups who maintain them.
“Every year more than two million residents and visitors take advantage of our vast network of forest recreation sites and trails,” said Minister Stan Hagen. “While about half are maintained through contracts and partnership agreements, the remainder are largely maintained by users. This additional $1 million will help maintain this vital asset for the enjoyment of all who love the outdoor experience.”
According to the MOTSA release, 450 recreation sites and 162 trails are maintained through 170 partnership agreements with communities, outdoor recreation groups, First Nations, regional districts, forestry companies and other organizations. Another 180 recreation sites are maintained through ministry contracts.
Still, the bulk of the work — 620 recreation sites and 488 trails is — undertaken by users, themselves with only a limited amount of direction or support.
As well as funding, MOTSA recreation staff will be working with local communities to assess different sites and trails, to address safety and environment issues, and develop work plans and schedules for the care of selected areas.
In the Squamish District the list of projects includes the Sea to Sky Trails Strategy, which is identifying different trails and users groups in the corridor, the Calcheak-Brandywine Trail, the Brew Creek site, the High Falls Trail and the Brandywine Meadows Trail.
The province had previously committed $3.8 million to upgrade and maintain recreation sites and trails across the province, in addition to the $5 million currently spent by the B.C. government to allow public access to recreation sites and trails. The additional money will go to replace picnic tables, toilets, fire pits and other structures, remove dangerous trees, and provide regular maintenance services at sites previously cared for by users.
“This new funding will help provide essential upgrades to our user-maintained sites to ensure these valued assets can be enjoyed for years to come,” said Hagen.