Thank you to everyone who took part in our workshop!
If you attended the workshop and would like to provide some feedback, please fill in this quick survey. All comments and suggestions are appreciated.
Trail builders and enthusiasts from around the province came together for a one-day workshop on Friday, March 7, 2014 at the Hilton Vancouver Airport. This was a pre-conference invitational event attempting to increase the dialogue between all trail user groups and government officials.
Hosted by Horse Council BC, in cooperation with the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC), this forum meets the strategic goals of HCBC by building partnerships and improving government relations with the equine industry. It continues the dialogue started in 2011 during the BC Equestrian Trails Roundtable held in Kelowna, where there was a focus on building bridges between outdoor recreation groups with shared interests and learning how to represent the interests of the outdoor recreation community to government, industry and to the public.
At each workshop there has been a clear message that in order to be able to work collaboratively with all orders of government, First Nations, and private land owners, all trail user groups must work together when advocating for new trails or improvements to existing trails.
The 2014 forum focused on the following theme:
Standards and considerations for Trail Maintenance including prioritizing projects, funding on-going maintenance, creating a trail maintenance plan, and GPS tracks.
Speakers included provincial government officials from both Recreation Sites and Trails BC and BC Parks; executive from various user groups; and the founder of Trails North America Mapping Ltd.
Rose Schroeder, HCBC VP Recreation, says “our combined voices are the best way to strengthen trails for everyone – both non-motorized and motorized. Trails help increase economic development and tourism, so we need to be encouraging trail use and the enjoyment of trails for health, recreation and transportation purposes.”
For more information about the Share The trail workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Hawkings, Ministry of Forests Lands & Natural Resource Operations
Current Developments at the Recreation Sites & Trails Branch
Terry Wardrop, Land and Environment Manager, Quad Riders ATV Association BC
Phil McIntyre-Paul, Executive Director, Shuswap Trail Alliance
Environmental Screening for New Trails
Peter Sprague, Founder, Trails North America Mapping Ltd.
Rob Wilson, Area Supervisor, BC Parks, South Coast Region
Volunteers and the Maintenance of Trails in BCs Provincial Parks
Shaun Hollingsworth, Canadian Co-chair, SEEC
Possible Funding Sources for New Trails
Connie Falk, Vice President, Back Country Horsemen of BC North Thompson Chapter
To see the workshop schedule, the list of speakers, and a description of each topic presented, click here.
Question: should we build more trails or do a better job of maintaining the existing ones? Mapping of BC’s recreational trails and funding opportunities.
The answer really depends because BC is so diverse. The Island, for example, has very few trails whereas the interior has a lot. Accessibility can be a challenge, as can different logging companies. Great trails are sometimes forgotten because users lose interest and decide to build new trails for new experiences that follow updated trends. Essentially, the picture is complicated and the answer to this question depends on geographic peculiarities.
Mapping trails is limited by local knowledge and should likely be the responsibility of private groups.
The consensus of this group was that there are enough trails, but not of the proper quality. This group suggested that new trails could perhaps replace poorly constructed or non-designated trails. These new trails would then need to have a management plan in place before it was built. The planning of these new trails would require planners to look at the big picture and there would be a need to have a limit on the number of new trails constructed.
This group also agreed that mapping of trails needs to be done.
There really is a limit to the amount of new trails a region can sustain. The suggestion here was to concentrate on trails in close proximity to access areas and create a variety of loop trail lengths to appeal to all user abilities and groups.
Mapping should be integrated across districts and regions in a way that’s consistent for users and land managers. This could mean having a predetermined set of criteria for mapping symbols, such as marks for trailheads and parking, trails currently in use, trails under construction or maintenance, sensitive areas, etc.
The consensus here is that on the island they need more trails and on the mainland we have enough. Resources should be put into signage and to inventory existing trails, focusing primarily on heritage trails. The reason we need to talk about trails, tourism, and creating trail networks is because there are only 800 registered trails in BC.
There are certain areas where there’s room for more trails, but in other areas there are enough. Maintenance certainly needs to be done but we should also work to build sustainable trails that need very little maintenance. We don’t want a single trail for everyone, but we want to make sure everyone has a trail. Trail alliances with really good dialogue and discussions need to be incorporated in every region, and these alliances need to work to show younger people that groups are working to reduce conflicts. By reducing conflicts it may just encourage more youth participation.
On Feb 11 the Government of Canada announced that $10 million will be made available for trail funding between 2014 and 2016. Trail groups having shovel ready projects will be eligible for the funding. What is a shovel ready project? How to scope a project. How to obtain the funds which will be required to match the federal trail funding.
With shovel-ready projects, a big part is having all of your authorizations in place, such as sections 57 or 56 from Recreation Sites & Trails BC. Make sure you’re having discussions with any of your affiliate organizations right now at the provincial level and have all of your administrative requirements ready to go. Projects that will likely receive National Trail Coalition funding will have already had a substantial amount of planning completed prior to the submission of the funding application.
Connie Falk’s presentation was a great example of how to scope a project. Remember, municipalities work on a different cycle than Recreation Sites & Trails. Be aware of all deadlines and ensure you meet them.
There are many different ways to obtain funds to match your federal request. Look at engaging your membership, local clubs, and businesses. Hosting fundraising events such as raffles are also worth considering.
Suggestions from this table include having your approvals in place; tying your plan to the community’s strategic plan; demonstrate achievability; and have an understanding that governments and other organizations are on different time schedules. Be sure to work on your partnerships, including those with different user groups and community interest groups. Everyone working together should make sure they agree with the principals and strategies. You’ll also need to show demonstrated capacity. Be sure to use a regional approach. When approaching prospective funding sources, go to potential partners looking at the project from multi user groups, and take a regional approach. Make sure to include any in-kind support you will receive.
Ways to strategize could include the bringing together of all sectors locally and across the province, and applying for mapping funds. Groups might give a better approach at the provincial level. The mapping component is important to have first. Perhaps using funding to train people on mapping, trail building, and other certifications could be a way to secure future funding.
The federal funding that was recently announced may include available funding up to $600,000. To ensure funding eligibility with a shovel-ready project means that you will need to have details such as First Nations and environmental consultations/approvals done, have funds available, have the project details worked out with the help of other groups and alliances, and a record of volunteer hours. Remember to think about what you’re wanting, what other trail networks are around, and how everything will impact other stakeholders. You will likely need to be part of an organization to access funding. An advisory board for the new provincial trail strategy program may also be beneficial.
A shovel-ready project will have letters of support, matching funds, and a detailed plan written out, along with budgets and permits. Groups will need to find a funding partner from other user groups, local governments, court ordered funding, and perhaps even by starting a youth council for trails in BC.
Suggested site: Get Outside BC
Sharing the Trail and forming trail coalitions: The Chilliwack Recreation Advisory Group was formed in 2011 and has proven to be a very useful way to deal with challenging trail issues such as how to share trails. Are there other opportunities for forming new groups like CRAG?
Recreation officers were instrumental in urging Chilliwack residents to come together and rectify the horrible state of their recreational trails. As things began to improve more groups joined in. Conflict can be a great motivator for different user groups and private land owners to come together to solve their mutual issues.
Remember to keep in mind the importance of regional alliances. Ask yourself if you have compelling factors to make different groups want or need to come together. Is there additional funding potential? Could there be additional resources through an organizations infrastructure? Look beyond the obvious partners.
Most people at this table are already involved with successful advisory groups. In the North Thompson area, however, there is an increase in mountain biking in some areas. This has demonstrated a need for educating mountain bikers about horses to avoid dangerous conflicts. All users should be educated. Advisory groups will also bring about an understanding of how a trail strategy and master plan could come together. There is potential for this kind of group to come together in provincial parks.
Mapping is important, especially as a task set for an advisory group. Being able to identify the different user groups on a map could be a step in the direction of bringing these groups together.
Not all trail advisory groups are born in conflict. Some groups just want to work with others to create opportunities for things such as funding, the creation of long term visions, regional collaborations and stewardships, and regional trail strategies. By pulling all user groups together to create a plan, an advisory group can help to increase funding opportunities, small groups can pool their resources to create something bigger. How to create these larger groups? You need a strong advocate to bring groups together, and to demonstrate mutual benefits to every group. It should also be led by influence and not by mandate. There was a suggestion that there should be a provincial program created to unite smaller groups. Collaboration brings groups together and prevents conflicts. You can explore fundraising as a group so everyone isn’t competing against each other. Recreation officers could help facilitate these advisory groups.
It was agreed that we need more alliances across BC that will work with Recreation Sites & Trails. Different ways that user groups could work together could be through fund raising and access blockages, among other things. There have been success stories and it would be great for these groups to document how that happened and to spread the word and share their stories with other regions. They could also encourage alliances to form as a registered society as a means to potentially raise funds and qualify for government funding. Awareness could also be raised by having a triathalon-like activity held to encourage people to try new activities. And remember, the world is run by those who show up.