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Whistler marks official opening of Canada's Great Trail

Community also pays tribute to Sea to Sky Trail project manager Gord McKeever

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A small group gathered in Lost Lake Park today to celebrate the opening of the Sea to Sky section of the Great Trail along with the late Whistlerite who poured so much time and passion into the project.

Whistler’s was among 200 events held across the country on Saturday, Aug. 26 to mark the coast-to-coast-to-coast connection of 22,000 kilometres of multi-use trail, also know as the Trans Canada Trail.

“This section of the trail is also part of the Sea to Sky Trail and Valley Trail system, connecting our community and region to the rest of the country,” said Acting Mayor Steve Anderson. “The (Resort Municipality of Whistler) is proud to have contributed to the development of this portion of the trail, creating opportunities for sport, athleticism and outdoor recreation, which are all core values to the culture of Whistler.”

Attendees to Saturday’s opening ceremony caught a glimpse of an art piece by Pemberton artist Vanessa Stark depicting the trail’s cross-country route. The artwork also features a portrait of the late Gord McKeever, who served as project manager of the Sea to Sky Trail for more than 20 years until his death in 2016. The piece, which will hang at the Whistler Public Library, allowed guests on-hand to colour in sections of the map themselves.

Jim Bishop, Trans Canada Trail board director, also took a moment to pay tribute to the former Whistler councillor and trail visionary.

“You don’t get things done without passion. It’s impossible … Gordon McKeever exemplified that,” said Bishop, who first met McKeever in 2004.

“He had that kind of passion about whatever he did, and he was wed to this trail just as I am, and I hope my children are and your children as well.”

McKeever, who served on council from 2002 to 2008, died last July following a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 62.

The Great Trail spans all 13 provinces and territories, officially the longest recreational trail in the world — and only stands to get longer.

"We are now connected, and we will never be completed because every generation will add their own tweak to it,” explained Bishop.

“We anticipate to be at 50,000 kilometres (of trails) in less than five years, because standing in the wings are a number of organizations that want to be connected, A classic example is right in this valley: Whistler is connected and Pemberton has to be connected, too.”

For more information, visit thegreattrail.ca.

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