The New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) has received $500,000 in funding from the provincial government. This will allow it to move ahead with various initiatives designed to create economic development opportunities via heritage tourism and First Nations reconciliation along the Hope–Barkerville corridor.
Since its incorporation in 2007, the NPTGS has helped build or restore more than 230km of heritage trails; install dozens of interpretive signs, kiosks, and campsites; successfully launch and/or complete 17 major projects; stage 163 events, performances, lectures, workshops, screenings, and symposia; and create more than 10,250 person-days of employment.
MLAs Jackie Tegart (Fraser-Nicola) and Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin) were responsible for securing the grant. “We lobbied everywhere we could to get the funding,” says Tegart. The NPTGS came to them last fall and indicated that their funding was exhausted. “We lobbied on the fact that 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and that the Gold Rush Trail is a crucial part of B.C. history.
“We were really pleased to present the cheque last week. It reinforces the importance of rural B.C. and how important tourism is.”
The society has a number of projects on the go. One of the largest projects the society is working on concerns the historic Alexandra Bridge south of Boston Bar.
“We’re still in the planning stages,” says NPTGS co-chair Terry Raymond of the project, which would include improvements made to the park above the bridge and better highway access, as well as more walking trails and information signs. The group also hopes to persuade the provincial government to repair the bridge, which was built in 1926. “It would cost them $2.5 million to take it down, and $3 million to make the structure good for another 10 years.”
Spuzzum First Nation (SFN) owns the land on the far side of the bridge, and Raymond says that was the first group the society approached about the project. “They jumped at the chance to partner on the project right away.” Other partners include BC Parks (which owns the land on the highway side of the bridge) and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, which owns the bridge.
The society is also marketing its Gold Rush/Spirit Trails, which it hopes to see stretch all the way from New Westminster to Barkerville. The NPTGS has recently published a tourist guide which highlights the hiking trails, historic sites, and guest ranches all along the Gold Rush Trail. The Spirit Trails offer a way to explore and learn more about the different First Nations sites and spiritual locations along the route, as well sites specific to early Asian and Hawaiian settlers.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” says Raymond. “Thanks to continued support from the province, we can get these important projects to the next level to benefit communities from Hope to Barkerville and beyond.”