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The Vancouver Island Trail

Ever thought about hiking the entire length of Vancouver Island on a single well-mapped trail? You will be able to soon. The Vancouver Island Spine Trail will allow you to do it.

Here is their latest progress up date straight from one of their organizers, Gil Parker.

VI Spine: A Trail from Victoria to Cape Scott

What is VI Spine? July 2009 Progress Report

{If this is the first Report you have seen, refer to our website}

The Vancouver Island “Spine” is a proposed trail from Victoria in the south to Cape Scott at the northern tip of the Island. The route is an inland route that passes near many communities, yet retains its wilderness character, following historic routes and completed trails where they exist.

Over 700 km long, 190 km of which is already built or planned, the “VISpine” will provide a recreational trail for residents and tourists through the beautiful back country of Vancouver Island. Primarily a hiking trail (but permitting non-motorized, multi-use where appropriate) the route traces mountains, forests and lakes, similar to successful routes in North America.

The “VISpine” trail will encourage local economies, both in the building of the trail and in the maintenance of the route. Local hiking clubs will be encouraged to monitor and adopt the trail, and businesses to provide services to travellers in their regions.

Where are we now?

VI Spine is part of “Hike BC,” the B.C. wing of the National Hiking Trail. We’ve applied for Federal tax free status. Our trail association, VISTA, has formed a Task Force with active representatives up and down the Island. Our active North Island member,Tim Sander, is leaving for the Kootenays, and we have a knowledgeable replacement in Jerry Davidson, Port Hardy. And we have added Tak Ogasawara, a former forestry employee and a well-known climber, in Campbell River. We are also getting many offers of volunteer assistance from young and capable outdoors people.

All hiking clubs have been contacted. The Spine has been endorsed by many clubs and regional and municipal institutions. New since our April Report are Victoria Outdoor Club, City of Campbell River, Village of Cumberland, Comox Valley Regional District, and the Capital Regional District Parks Committee.

While VI Spine has made extensive efforts to find partners to apply for the recent Federal funds ($25m infrastructure funding for trails) this has resulting in no application being made. The large amount actually diminishes to $3m for BC trails, and of that, only $1m for non-motorized trails. In the time available to apply for these funds (closed June 26th) no regional district could be identified to have the required 50% matching funds and/or the willingness to commit funds to specific parts of the VI Spine. However, meetings with the CRD and CVRD to expedite the southern portion of the Spine (actually the long-incomplete Trans Canada Trail) has been productive. We have been invited to participate in the detailed design of the section from Langford to Shawnigan Lake, for a probable start of construction in 2010.

A recent announcement of $450,000 from ICET funds will allow the section from Headquarters Bay on the Alberni Canal to proceed east to Francis Lake. Project partners include the City of Port Alberni, the Tseshaht First Nation and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. The total cost of this section is estimated at $929,000. We will have our VI Spine representatives discuss route location details, in order to coordinate the eventual connection to the Cowichan Lake section. In general, our trail planning is following the (1913) historic Canadian Northern Pacific Railway grade from Victoria to Port Alberni, still quite visible along the Alberni Canal south of Port Alberni.

All regional districts have been contacted. The Comox Valley “Echo” reported on April 10th the support of the Comox Valley Regional District in a complimentary report. Meetings in Victoria have resulted in endorsement by the CRD Parks Committee, and an invitation to meet with the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities-AVICC.

We have received a query from Channel A (#11) up-Island, and Ken Rodonets of our Task Force has responded. The Victoria Times-Colonist interviewed Parker and, on June 25th, ran an article about the VI Spine with a map of the route. Three days later, Dave Obee wrote a positive editorial about our trail project.

Next Tasks for VI Spine

Continue and expand contacts with RDs, especially with their planning of recreational trails. Make contact with timber companies. We need to eventually secure occupiers’ licenses for our trails. Expand contacts with MOTCA and First Nations.

Plan trail crews for route identification and location. We have volunteers available who are expert in route-finding and GPS location.

Begin serious PR and fund-raising work. So far, all the press that we have received has been initiated by the media. But keep an eye out for a major media event for 2010. Something like an Olympic year, relay from Victoria to Cape Scott. Ideas?


Another update is due soon and I will post that as soon as I see it. If you have any other questions let us know in the comments.

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