On Monday, Nov. 27, at a regular City Council Meeting, the Kimberley Trail Society (KTS) and the Kimberley Nature Park Society (KNPS) requested ongoing City support in order to hire a trails Manager.
Since then, the City has received several letters of support from various individuals and organizations including the Kimberley Nordic Centre, the Kootenay Orienteering Club, the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Lois Creek Trails, Resorts of Canadian Rockies, Tourism Kimberley and The District Recreation Officer from the Province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO).
KTS and KNPS currently manage over 150 kilometres of local trails, which are free, highly accessible city infrastructure, says Director of KTS, Brett Price.
“The trails are used by most Kimberley residents for various uses including dog walking, hiking, biking etc,” Price said. “They are a critical drawcard for new residents, tourists and events to ensure prosperity for the city, its residents and businesses.”
The funding requests are as follows: a commitment of yearly City funding of $30K to support a part-time professional trail crew to assist volunteers with maintenance, signage and improvements.
In-kind support of $20K (e.g. machines and labour) to build staging areas and concrete pit toilets at the Bootleg Area Recreation Site and a pit toilet at the Nordic Centre.
Support in lobbying RDEK to provide $15 per household (Approximately $60K) so that they can hire a full time trails director. Price says this is consistent with other regional districts, for example, Rossland receives $100K per year.
At a regular City Council Meeting this past Monday, Council discussed the seven letters of support.
Councillor Nigel Kitto says that the Societies have been “doing their homework” to get support from all of the major trails groups in Kimberley and the surrounding area.
“There are a large group of volunteers out there that have brought the trails this far,” said Kitto. “There’s just a lot more work to do in the future. There’s not a lot of tax money that actually goes directly into trails apart from some money to cover liability insurance. Also, the money that’s gone into developing bike trails in the past decade has been grant money. Going forward, it’s not just the bike users, it’s for all trail users around Kimberley. There’s an inference [in a letter] comparing trails to infrastructure in town, the arenas in town, and I think that’s a fair comparison because the arenas are getting a lot of the tax payer’s money. I think we do have a lot of work to do to promote how our trails benefit the community.”
Councillor Albert Hoglund says that the Province should be helping to fund trails maintenance, referring to a letter of support from FLNRO.
“I would think those people [FLNRO] would want to put some money into it,” said Hoglund. “They build all these nice trails and then they leave. They are the provincial government, and if they want us to build trails on their crown land, then maybe they should step up and put some money into hiring a coordinator. Everything is pushed off to the municipality.”
There was also some concerned residents who say that the trails on Bootleg struggle because they are outside city limits.
“The Marysville folks concerned about Bootled have a very valid concern,” said Councillor Oakley. “The other thing is, the letter from the FLNRO says that they would like to express their support to secure funding. What I would suggest, is that our Economic Development officer meets with these folks and try to sort out how and where you can get funding. We should be pursuing a funding partnership with FLNRO and with Columbia Basin Trust. It affects the economy within our boundaries.”
Mayor Don McCormick says there is money from those groups available, however the municipality has to agree to participate as well.
The KNPS has also launched a new video, an Introduction to the Kimberley Nature Park. The five-minute video was shot in a variety of locations within the park, in all four seasons.
Nature Park Society members were given a sneak peak at the video at their AGM at the end of November and it is now available for all to see on their website and on Facebook.
Also at the AGM, the Society elected new board members. The board is now made up of: Kent Goodwin, President; Ingrid Musser-Okholm, Secretary; Naomi Hummeny, Vice-President; Lisa Rowlands, Treasurer; Rob McInnis, director; John Henly, director; Cliff Erven, director; Lou Bedard, director, Frank O’Grady, director; Rod Chapman, director; and Gary Hicks, director.