Amid little fanfare, the newest addition to the Valley Trail has opened. Councillor Grant Lamont says the views from the new bridge crossing the River of Golden Dreams by Meadow Park are "spectacular."
Dave Patterson, Manager of Parks Operations for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, notes that the municipality's work on the Valley Trail is ongoing, from planning extensions of the trail to maintenance of sections that are nearly 20 years old.
"The Valley Trail is a core amenity in the community. It's a major draw for people," says Patterson, noting that the trail enjoys four-season usage. "We try to make it as accessible as possible."
The multi-use trail has a number of noticeable gaps that the RMOW is working hard to close. The new bridge installed across the River of Golden Dreams was opened to the public in the fall of 2008 and is located adjacent to the Meadow Park Sports Centre parking lot. Work will continue on sections of trail between the Nicklaus North and Spruce Grove neighbourhoods this summer, with much of this work being funded through developer commitments. As well, future expansion plans include work in Alpine and north of Spring Creek.
The RMOW recently applied for grants to benefit the neighbourhoods on both ends of the trail. It's hoped that a B.C. LocalMotion grant will provide up to 50 per cent of the cost of construction for a bridge across 19 Mile Creek, west of the existing bridge on Highway 99. This will provide access to the Alpine commercial centre from the Alpine Meadows North and Rainbow neighbourhoods.
"That section of the trail will be lit and will be a desirable link once (Rainbow's) up and running as a community," says Patterson.
A second B.C. LocalMotion application has been submitted for a grant to extend the trail between Spring Creek and Cheakamus Crossing and re-route the existing trail in that area. To hedge their bets, the RMOW has also applied for a Towns for Tomorrow grant to assist with the funding needed to make Whistler's newest, post-Games neighbourhood accessible via the Valley Trail.
RMOW Planner Frank Savage, who presented a staff report to council for the Towns for Tomorrow grant on Jan. 13, feels the project "fits the funding source quite well." The cost-sharing grant is available to communities of 5,000 to 15,000 residents for projects that address environmental concerns such as climate change and sustainability.
The Valley Trail is a valuable community resource for both recreation and transportation. With motorized vehicles prohibited, the Valley Trail offers a quiet alternative for people's morning commutes, as well as a recreational amenity for both residents and visitors alike.
The 35 kilometre multi-use community trail runs from Spring Creek in the south to Emerald Estates in the north. Designed to connect Whistler's neighbourhoods to Whistler Village, Creekside and the community's numerous destination parks, the Valley Trail may one day be an essential part of The Sea to Sky Trail.
The vision for the Sea to Sky Trail is to see the completion of a 190-kilometre trail extending from Squamish to D'Arcy, connecting communities throughout the corridor with an off-road path for self-propelled use.