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Trail Connection Provides New Recreation Opportunities in Southern Vancouver Island
Malahat, BC – In preparation for this summer’s 25th anniversary of Canada’s The Great Trail, a vital trail connection has been completed on Southern Vancouver Island. The completion of the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail and the 9km extension of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Cowichan Valley Trail, closes a gap in the route of The Great Trail.
“The Great Trail is one of the world’s longest networks of multi-use recreational trails,” explains Valerie Pringle, Chair, Trans Canada Trail Foundation. “Once fully connected, it will stretch nearly 24,000 km from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, through every province and territory, linking Canadians in nearly 1,000 communities. On Vancouver Island, The Great Trail spans from Nanaimo through the Cowichan Valley to Victoria.”
“The 9km Cowichan Valley Trail – Malahat Connector project links the existing trail in Shawnigan Lake south to the Capital Regional District in the Goldstream Heights area,” says CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure. “This non-motorized multi-use trail, in partnership with Malahat Nation, winds through second growth forests with overlooks that provide sweeping views above Shawnigan Lake and across the Saanich Peninsula/Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea.”
“We are glad the CVRD is finally recognizing the Malahat Nation’s ownership of their territory. We believe this will promote an active, healthy lifestyle for us and our neighbouring communities. We hope people will respect the territory as they travel through and admire its beauty. Malahat Nation remembers its history and is working hard towards building a better future,” says Malahat Nation Councillor Vince Harry.
“The CRD is opening the new Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail as a major visitor opportunity in the vast 4,090-hectare Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park,” says CRD Board Chair Barbara Desjardins. “The park, along with adjacent watershed lands, helps protect Greater Victoria’s water supply, conserves biodiversity, and now provides recreational opportunities. The 13km unpaved trail offers outstanding hiking, cycling, and, in sections, horseback riding, across rivers, through forests, and over hilltops.”
In total, grant funders contributed more than $1.2 million to the completion of this important connection for The Great Trail on Vancouver Island. These include the Province of BC’s BikeBC program, TimberWest, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, and a Provincial fund dedicated to establishing this trail route.