Trent Ernst, Editor
The Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark (TRAG) has taken a number of steps closer to becoming a reality.
Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier recently came to town to announce that the Government of BC was giving the TRAG steering committee $30,000 of funding from the Government of B.C. through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural development.
This funding will be used by the TRAG steering committee to cover the costs to create and present formal business plan, action plan, and marketing strategy to be presented to UNESCO and the Global Geoparks Network (GGN) to assist in officially recognizing the region as an international Geopark.
“This funding is a great step forward for the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark steering committee to make a compelling case to international authorities to make this Geopark a reality,” says Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier, who made the announcement at the Meet Your MLA event held at the Tumbler Ridge Museum April 15. “Tumbler Ridge has some of the most unique geological formations found nowhere else on our planet including amazing fossil heritage, and incredibly beautiful natural landscapes. Receiving Geopark status would also bring significant economic benefits including geotourism and job creation in research and sustainably focused employment to our region.”
The cheque is going to be divided evenly between funds to help with business plan, action plan and marketing strategy.
The announcement of funding comes hot on the heels of a letter from UNESCO, saying that an evaluation mission to Tumbler Ridge has been authorized to evaluate the application for membership into the Global Geoparks Network.
Charles Helm says the $30,000 compliments the phenomenal support the proposal has gotten regionally. “The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) has allocated $55,000 for this year, which is going to bring the delegates from the Global Geopark Network for their mission.”
Those delegates are Dr Luis Alcala of Spain and Dr Zhang Jianping of China, who will be in Tumbler Ridge from June 5–10 as part of that evaluation mission. Dr Godfrey Nowlan, Chairperson of the Canadian National Committee for Geoparks, will also be joining them.
These experts will report back to the Global Geoparks Network on their findings, and a decision on the application is expected to be made at the International Geoparks Conference to be held in Stonehammer, New Brunswick, in September. However, the steering committee has a few months of hard work ahead of them that they need to get through first.
“We don’t want to get ahead of things,” says Helm. “We have a lot of work to do to prove to these folks what a good product we have in Tumbler Ridge.”