Trail building program to create jobs this summer

Trent Ernst, Editor

After a year and a half of set-up, the Tumbler Ridge Chamber of Commerce and Grizzly Valley ATV Club have secured funding for a trail building program through the Province’s Job Creation Program (JCP).

The seeds of the idea date back three years ago, says ATV President Tim Croston, when he and Gordon Graham began the push to start an ATV club in Tumbler Ridge. “We had an initial meeting at the Community Centre, and had over 60 residents sign up that first night,” he says.

While just getting out and riding was an important component for the club, the club also wanted to focus on issues affecting riders as well. “A couple of the things we spoke about was we wanted to attempt to get a new ATV Bylaw done with the DTR, which was accomplished earlier this year and we wanted to build a new multi-use trail to Quality Lake.”

Graham and Croston had talked about finding a suitable route to the lake, but it remained just talk until Croston joined the Chamber Board as a director. “I brought forth my idea to the board, and to Carmen Drapeau, who was at that time the Chamber Manager.”

Drapeau liked the idea, and she suggested applying for a JCP grant.  “At that time I had no idea what it was all about but agreed that if the Board approved, let’s go for it.”

Drapeau did much of the leg work to get the grant application ready for last year, along with then CAO Barry Elliot and Jordan Wall, who was EDO at the time. “The task was quite difficult and there were many hurdles. Before we knew it, time had run out to start the project even if it were approved so last fall it was shelved.”

With a new year, a new Chamber Board and a new Chamber Manager, the idea of pursuing the JCP grant was raised. “The board was unanimously in favour of this.”

With the groundwork already laid last year, Chamber Manager Jerrilyn Schembri was able to bring the project forward and on May 20, the JCP contract was signed with the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Schembri says the project will bring 15 jobs to the community over 17 weeks. “Three of the spots are professional spots are professional spots that will be hired separately,” she says. “The ad in [last week’s] paper was for two of those, while the third person has already been hired. His name is Bill Broadman, and he is a forestry professional who will coming in to oversee the entire project. He was recommended to us by Worksafe BC, because there are really stringent requirements when building trails. The person who will be coming in has all these tickets and qualifications that Worksafe BC needed.

“The other two professional positions are a foreman and a bookkeeper, both of which will be hired locally.”

In addition to these three, 12 others will be hired to do the work building the trails. “The 12 participants who will be doing the work building the trail will need to be people who have open, active files with Work BC. They have to be on EI, or have been on EI in the last two years and meet all of Work BC’s requirements,” says Schembri. “Work BC was in town yesterday dealing with all the clients who are eligible for these positions, and they’ll be giving us those names, as we are the managers of the contract, and then Bill will be doing the hiring.”

She says they are hoping to have people hired by the week of June 6. Once hired, the people will be given training. “Once that training is complete, they’ll be out building trails.”

While the JCP will be employing 14 locals, it’s not the only benefit the program is bringing to town, says Schembri. “All purchasing will be done locally, as long as things can be sourced in town. All of the things we’re purchasing, such as chainsaws, brush saws, etc, will be left in town, too. It will either be given to volunteer groups for further trail maintenance, or lent out to these groups.”

“We’re bringing close to 400,000 into the community and providing work for 15 people.”

While the project was the brainchild of the ATV club and pushed forward by the Chamber, there are many people who are participating. The District of Tumbler Ridge, Pattern Energy and the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are all contributing financially to the project.

Once completed, says Croston, the town will have a new multi-use trail built to Quality Lake that follows the ridge line above the Bald Spot. “It will have beautiful panoramic views for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. This project also involves clearing the Mt. Hermann trail, the Five Cabin Creek Trail, and if time permits, we will continue with other trail clearing like the old 350 man camp trail.”

These trails have become overgrown to the extent that some are impassable, says Croston. Clearing these trails “will give outdoor recreational enthusiasts whether local or visitors a real ‘made in TR’ experience.”

In addition, the crew will build a picnic shelter at Moose Lake. This project was started last year, with Pattern Energy donating the time and materials to pour a concrete pad. They’ve also donated $25,000 for the actual shelter to be built.

Croston says not only was the Geopark behind the project, but Geopark Manager Sarah Waters  volunteered to do the archaeological assessment on the trail, a government requirement.

Originally, says Croston, the original proposal would have seen a Forest Recreation Site developed at Quality Lake. “Due to archaeological interests in the area, that project is on hold until Waters competes the assessments and required digs,” says Croston. That project is now in the hands of Forest, Rec Sites and Trails, and should be completed over the next few years.”