Jul 1, 2005 | Marmot, Summer 2005

Proposed Strathcona Park Trail Head to begin at Raven Lodge

North Island Rotary clubs and BC Parks are teaming up to build a new trail head to Strathcona Park at Raven Lodge. “The trailhead has been 10 years in the decision-making,” says Andy Smith of BC Parks.

The Rotary Club of Campbell River has taken on a project to develop our long-awaited and long-needed connector trail and new trail head. Five Rotary clubs in Campbell River and the Comox Valley have been approached to help fund the project.

All five clubs need to agree on the project for it to be successful, says Bayne Mann, president-elect of the Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club in the Comox Valley. So far, his members are behind the project, he said. “We’re going to be voting on it. We’re in unless there’s something that kicks us out,” he said. Mann’s club members like to get their hands dirty, so they will be looking to add manpower to their donation if the vote is successful. “Push dirt around or something,” he said.

The Rotary Club of Campbell River has applied to the Coast Sustainability Trust Fund to assist in funding to pay for the trail head project. The plan is to make a wheelchair-accessible trail from the new trail head and meet up with other existing boardwalks all the way out to Lake Helen Mackenzie.

Along with the new trail head, Friends of the Park would like to see a Visitors’ Centre built so people could go in and learn about Strathcona Park before they start their hikes.

“This is the biggest thing to happen to Strathcona Park, and certainly the Forbidden Plateau area in its history,” Smith said.

However, he cautioned that the project might have to happen in phases. The Coast Sustainability Fund has a maximum of $100,000 for grants; The trail work and trail head will cost an estimated $200,000, and a Visitors’ Centre would be another $200,000. “Regardless of whether we get the sustainability grant or not, we still need donations,” he said.

The need for a new trail head was underscored last year after the road was paved to Raven Lodge. Hikers used to park their cars on the side of the gravel road in order to use the old trail head, which was located near the old Nordic Lodge. When Raven Lodge was built, an 800-metre bark mulch trail was created by the Resort to give the public access to the old trail head, but everyone agreed that trail head was inconvenient, Smith said.

Mount Washington Alpine Resort donated land worth $156,000 for the trail head. Smith said he hoped the project would receive funding approval by the end of June, so construction of the trail head could be completed by the fall of 2005.

For more information on the trail head project or to donate to the effort, contact Smith at (250) 337-2405 or e-mail him at andy.smith@gov.bc.ca. Tax receipts will be written for donations over $100.

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