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VI Spine Progress Report September 9 2009

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If you have never heard of the Vancouver Island Spine Trail, you’re in for a nice surprise. The proposed 700km trail from the north tip of Vancouver Island, is getting geared up for some major action. Some of the trail utilizes current trail system but there is still a lot to be done. This is the progress report for September 9 2009. You can find out more on the website,

Where are we now?

Vancouver Island “Spine” Trail Association is now constituted as a registered non profit society. VISTA is now happy to receive support of interested persons, and membership is $20 cash or cheque (or PayPal soon on our website) that entitles you to receive the progress reports, to vote at the AGMs for 2010, and to brag about your support!

Snail Mail: VISTA, 325 Irving Road, Victoria, BC, V8S4A1

VI Spine trail will be part of “Hike BC” network, the B.C. wing of the National Hiking Trail. We’ve applied for Federal tax free status. Our trail association, VISTA, has an active Board of Directors:

Gil Parker, retired engineer/writer, President

Bill Feyrer, retired engineer, Treasurer

Robie Macdonald, oceanographer, Director

Ray Parks, CEO Provincial Capitol Commission, Director

Peter Berrang, retired businessman, Director

As a result of media reports, we have had a tremendous response to our concept and volunteers offering assistance in several specific areas.

We have a committed Task Force with active representatives up and down the Island.

Don Watmough, ex CRD planner, Victoria We also have several helpful

Robert Gunn, president AVOC, Port Alberni consultants and volunteers

Ken Rodonets, president CDMC, Courtenay along the route of the Spine.

Tak Ogasawara, Campbell River

Jerry Davidson, Port Hardy

Positive Steps:

All hiking clubs have been contacted. The Spine has been endorsed by many clubs and regional and municipal institutions. See our website.

Jen Segger of “Challenge by Choice”, outdoor athlete extraordinaire, has just run and cycled the length of Vancouver Island in four days. We expect a hiker to take about a month!! While her route is different from that of the Spine, many parts are the same. Jen promoted our VI Spine in her radio interviews and on her website. Thanks, Jen!

All regional districts have been contacted and these liaisons will be continued. Meetings in Victoria have resulted in endorsement by the CRD Parks Committee. A presentation to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities-AVICC resulted in expanded communication with Port Alberni officials, and with mayors from other Island centers.

Meetings are scheduled this fall with Capitol Region and Cowichan Valley Region to expedite the southern portion of the Spine (actually the long-incomplete Trans Canada Trail from Langford to Shawnigan Lake) for a probable start of construction in 2010.

A recent announcement of $450,000 from ICET provincial funds will allow the section from Headquarters Bay on the Alberni Canal to proceed east to Francis Lake. In general, the trail planning is following the (1913) historic Canadian Northern Pacific Railway from Victoria to Port Alberni, still quite visible along the Canal south of Port Alberni.

VISTA is working with the Kwakutl nation in Port Hardy to assist in their funded study of the route from Port Hardy to Shushartie Bay. We are still trying to decide on a simple system of field coordinates and mapping to permit definitive mapping of the route, a system that all sections can utilize.

Next Tasks for VI Spine

In addition to the on-going activities (above), VISTA will focus on completing a brochure and revising the website to give a more complete virtual tour of the VI Spine.

Continue and expand contacts with RDs, especially with their planning of recreational trails. Through the RDs, make contact with timber companies. We need to eventually secure occupiers’ licenses for our trails. VISTA expects a meeting with MOTCAs Island representatives at an early date. (This Ministry was responsible for the BC Trail Strategy in 2009, and they are the lead administrative organ for trails on Crown land.)

The on-the-ground work of locating the VI Spine has been hampered this summer by road closures due to fire hazard and for other reasons. As much as possible in fall and winter, we will continue with our trail crews for route identification and location.

Our major media event in the near future will be a Torch Relay (or with something more appropriate to hiking, maybe a Backpack Relay). Probably in the spring or early summer we hope to have individuals and clubs (hikers, service clubs, schools), hike the route of the VI Spine as near as possible to the proposed route, the complete length of the Island. We won’t do it in four days, like Jen Segger, but more likely a month, with many media events en route.

VISTA will begin serious PR and fund-raising work. So far, all the press that we have received has been initiated by the media.

The VISTA Board is open to your ideas!

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