Rail event showcases Beaverdell trail potential

The Beaverdell community hosted Trails to the Boundary Society (TTTBS) on Saturday at the Beaverdell Community Hall.

Locals met with trails coordinator Ciel Sander to learn about the potential for trail-related economic development, both within the community of Beaverdell and across the region.

The section of the Trans Canada Trail that runs through the Boundary is the former Kettle Valley Railway (KVR), a rail line that has rich origins in economic prosperity, transporting minerals within Canada.

Sander began by showing examples of regions such as Wallace, Idaho and Otaga Central Rail Trail in New Zealand. Both places had an old rail line that was unused and developed that line into a successful rail trail.

Wallace, Idaho shares similar traits to Boundary in that it too was a mining region. When the mine shut down a lot of money in the region dried up, and as a result, Wallace became an economy built around people traveling through the region to another destination.

By developing a rail trail, Sander said both of these regions have successfully transformed themselves into destinations, rather than stops along the way.

The opportunity and economic growth that comes from having a regional rail trail, Sander explained, is in the entrepreneurial potential and the market that comes from travelers who “will pay for experiences while they travel.” Figures presented from Wallace and Otaga are encouraging evidence that this could be a reality in the Boundary.

“So how do we start?” a resident of Beaverdell asked after Sander concluded, starting the discussion around opportunities for businesses and organizations to get going on cycle tourism and making Beaverdell a destination

Sander highlighted the different needs of businesses in the community around cycling: or instance, a bicycle repair shop would have different needs than accommodation-based businesses, or bike rentals or shuttle services. These are all services TTTBS indicated it would encourage in order to make it easier for cyclists to choose the Boundary.

Mike Overend, a representative from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), encouraged anyone beginning a trail-related project or business to contact the association as a resource and networking tool.

Overend also spoke with the crowd about the new Rail Trail strategy. TOTA recently applied for a Rural Dividend grant, with the intention to build wifi stations along the KVR trail, adding to the development and enjoyability of the trail for those who utilize it.

“A successful rail trail is when all of the communities of our region benefit,” added RDKB Area E director Vicki Gee, about the potential of the trail from Big White to Christina Lake.

Working with Beaverdell Community Club president Vickie Tomlinson, the community hopes to create a “different kind of gateway” for those who visit Beaverdell from the trail, given that the ballpark is the first thing that trailgoers when they enter the community.

Gee spoke with those in attendance of the RDKB’s trails master plan and public consultations that will be occurring in the future, as well as the gas tax dollars currently being invested into the Beaverdell ballpark, among other non-trail related topics.

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