Those behind the longest trail in the world are hoping to see it grow even longer throughout the Comox Valley and beyond on Vancouver Island.
In mid-September, Eleanor McMahon, former Minister of Tourism for the Province of Ontario and current president and CEO of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) presented to various municipal governments within the Valley their vision for the future of the trail at a lunchtime seminar at the Native Sons Hall in Courtenay.
She was backed by Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, who toured the mid and north Island with her to meet with government, community and First Nation officials to further pursue opportunities to connect existing trail networks with the TCT.
“How can we take advantage of the culture you have here, the desire to invest in healthy, safe, and active communities?” asked McMahon who added the 28,000 km trail connects communities across Canada while traversing land and sea.
McMahon explained the trail began in 1992 in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, and in 2017, it was connected from coast to coast to coast. Her goal on the Island was to talk about growing the presence of the trail while adding to existing trails.
“As we began to think about what our future looks like… the trail’s connected now, coast to coast to coast. It doesn’t mean we’re finished - connected does not mean complete.”
On Vancouver Island, the TCT ends northbound in Nanaimo.
The TCT is a community-based project where trail sections are owned, operated and maintained by local organizations, provincial authorities, national agencies and municipalities across Canada.
The organization does not own or operate any trail, noted McMahon.
Outside of private donations, the trail is supported by corporations, foundations and all levels of government.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells inquired about what expectations would be placed on municipalities for trail expansion.
McMahon explained in the last federal budget, the organization received $55 million in funding over the next five years to enhance and continue growing the TCT.
“We can fund about 35 per cent of municipal and other projects across the country, so being a part of our network has the advantage of funding and also sharing knowledge, skills and abilities with local volunteers.”
For more information, visit tctrail.ca.