Jul 1, 2006 | Marmot, Summer 2006

New Trailhead for Paradise Meadows

Paradise Meadows is getting a new trailhead, nearly 20 years after the idea was first mentioned.

Later this year B.C. Parks will unveil its gateway to Strathcona Provincial Park. A kilometre-long crushed gravel trail was created last fall, before the snow started falling, to lead hikers, walkers and runners to the new entrance to the park.

Andy Smith, spokesman for B.C. Parks, said the landscape plan has yet to be done. “We have some visions of what it will be like. Maybe carvings out of wood or rock,” he said. The trailhead will create a new entrance into Strathcona Provincial Park, and it will solve some issues the old trailhead was never able to solve, like bathroom facilities and parking.

“It will be a much nicer access. People will have a parking lot right there, which we’ve never had,” Smith said. A grand opening will be held sometime in August.

The old trail will eventually be upgraded so it’s accessible by wheelchair and stroller alike.

The trailhead and visitors’ centre project really got off the ground this year when the project was amalgamated with the Vancouver Island Mountain Sport Centre. The non-profit organization and B.C. Parks were able to team up in asking for government grants and to streamline a complicated process. “There is strength in unison,” Smith said. “We are together. We’ve got buildings that can be used by everybody, not just the park.”

About $5.5 million will have to be raised to build the sport centre and visitors’ centre. The building will be multi-functional, providing space to run workshops such as Leave No Trace and avalanche training. While he would love to see an educational component to the new centre, Smith said it won’t be limited to sports. “The sky’s the limit as far as programs go with the visitors’ centre,” he said.

Smith and his committee members are also looking at ways to sustain the centre once it’s built. B.C. Parks is looking at creating a group camping site on the Plateau and the revenue from the campsite would go back into the interpretive centre.

Where it will be situated is still up for debate, although Smith said a logical place would be somewhere in the vicinity of Raven Lodge. Some would like to see it where the snow dump is now. That’s doable, Smith said, but it would mean leveling part of the parking lot.

The main thing with the building design, whatever it may be, is that it is accessible to people both in winter and summer, without taking away from the outdoor experience, he said.

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