Lake Cowichan to boast world-class trail system: upgrades on the way with $86K funding

Bob Day and his fellow Trailblazers are working hard on trails in the Cowichan Lake area. (Submitted)

The buzz is building around Lake Cowichan as the Cowichan Lake Trailblazers are working to make the area a world-class trail destination.

The Trailblazers, lead by president Bob Day, have received $86,277 from the B.C. Government to help them along, through a new project from Community Futures Cowichan and the BC Rural Dividend Fund.

“The whole Cowichan Lake Community got behind this initiative right from the start,” said Day. “This enthusiasm will be the key ingredient moving forward into trail development and marketing. The funding will firmly establish the legitimacy of the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society as we work on building our trail network to market to our locals and market them to trail users around the world.”

The five-figure monetary infusion will mainly go to administrative work — which sounds disappointing but is actually the most essential part in developing trails, Day explained.

“It’s becoming a rather large entity in the business that it has to undertake with trail management, trail planning, negotiating with private land owners for land use agreements and things like that,” he said. “So, $50,000 of that over two years (the length of the project) is going to go towards having an administrator that’s responsible to the board.”

Some of the funding is also for insurance.

“In order to build trails on private land, and Lake Cowichan is surrounded by private lands whether they be forestry lands or municipal lands or things like that, we have to have insurance.”

That’ll take up $2,000 a year of the grant.

Tools will also be purchased but that’s just a small portion of the funds.

“That’s one of the things I don’t think the general public understands is that we don’t just buy shovels and picks and go out and make trails,” Day explained. “There’s all this bureaucracy that has to be covered off so we can go and do that job because we want to build world class trails, not just walks through the forest where you get smacked in the face with branches and trip over roots.”

Some of the funds will go towards board development so the board can be fully prepared to work efficiently and with purpose.

“The grant is going to help make the existing trails that already exist in our area legitimate by formalizing agreements with private land owners and making trails world class,” Day said. “We’ve started the conversations with [the logging companies]. Now we can do that with this grant money.”

It’s a project that’s backed by the community and one they should benefit from. Working with the Cowichan Lake Trailblazers, there will be financial and in-kind support for trail building training and equipment; developing land use agreements; designing and installing signs and maps; and programs to help local businesses benefit from increased tourism activity.

“Recreation trails are catalysts for economic and community development. Trail networks across B.C. are strengthening the link between traditional tourism and the trend towards outdoor recreation,” explained Cathy Roberston, general manager of Community Futures Cowichan. “This creates opportunities for businesses and the local economy. Trails boost local economic activity while positively impacting community through social development, education, healthy active living, and environmental sustainability.”

Anyone interested in getting involved and supporting trail development please contact Bob Day at 250-710-0742 or cowichanlaketrailblazers@gmail.com

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