I am writing to thank Neil Judson for the excellent article about recreational trails and trail funding in the Dec. 11 Chief newspaper [Signs of change for local trails].
I wanted to add that in addition to all the great work by the Squamish Trails Society and the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA), and the funding mentioned in the article (Signs of Change for Local Trails), there are other important contributors and funding that should be recognized.
First I would like to mention that British Columbia Timber Sales also contributed towards signage and kiosks on trails with a contribution from the Forest Investment Account (FIA).
Second I would also like to acknowledge that the Squamish Dirt Bike Association are also spending up to $85,000 dollars on trail maintenance, construction and signage. These expenditures are supported by a National Trails Coalition grant matched by the British Columbia Off-Road Motorcycle Association (BCORMA).
Third, I have to mention the contribution, while not financial, of the Squamish Nation here. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts (MTCA) must meaningfully engage in consultation with First Nations about authorization and/or establishment of trails. This is guaranteed by section 35(1) of the Canadian Constitution and upheld by many Supreme Court decisions.
As most funding was contingent on having approvals in place, MTCA had to formally meet with the Squamish Nation to discuss impacts of existing and proposed trails on their rights and title. It was through the understanding, cooperation and compromise of the Squamish Nation that these discussions moved forward and the referrals could be adjudicated quickly.
Lastly, I want to thank the many volunteers who have been working diligently over the years, some for many decades, to build, maintain and advocate for recreational trails here in Squamish and through the corridor.
Some of these volunteers are now being paid to work on trails, but in most cases they continue to deliver far more than they are being financially compensated for. As most of this funding was applicant driven, I am especially grateful to the trail clubs and individuals who applied for the grants and who were also committed to working within the system to get trails authorized and/or established.
MTCA have been working towards getting trails authorized and where appropriate established for three years. We realize this has been a long and often frustrating process.
The policy and framework for this had to be built from the ground up. It is not as simple as a decision by one land manager but requires input from many agencies, stakeholders and First Nations.
The good news is we have got through some initial authorizations and establishments, coincidently at a time of "unprecedented funding opportunities." The framework is now in place and hopefully future decisions will be easier.
In case there is any lingering confusion about the framework, I'd like to take this opportunity to confirm and clarify some policy intent. It is section 56 of the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) that provides legislative mechanism for designating a trial on the land base.
It does not in itself confer a right to any group or individual to use, construct or do work on a trail. Legally establishing allows MTCA to enter into Trail Partnership Agreements with local clubs and to define management objectives for them.
Establishment is not a land disposition and does not create linear parks.
Section 57 of FRPA is a legislative prohibition on the construction, maintenance or rehabilitation of a trail without authorization. The legislation requires anyone doing work on a trail (construction, rehabilitation and maintenance) to have authorization from the Minister (delegated to the recreation officer).
I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with all trail users.
MTCA district recreation officer