Trail Connection Provides New Recreation Opportunities in Southern Vancouver Island

Jun 23, 2017

Malahat, BC – In preparation for this summer’s 25th anniversary of Canada’s The Great Trail, a vital trail connection has been completed on Southern Vancouver Island. The completion of the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail and the 9km extension of the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) Cowichan Valley Trail, closes a gap in the route of The Great Trail.

“The Great Trail is one of the world's longest networks of multi-use recreational trails,” explains Valerie Pringle, Chair, Trans Canada Trail Foundation. “Once fully connected, it will stretch nearly 24,000 km from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, through every province and territory, linking Canadians in nearly 1,000 communities. On Vancouver Island, The Great Trail spans from Nanaimo through the Cowichan Valley to Victoria.”

“The 9km Cowichan Valley Trail – Malahat Connector project links the existing trail in Shawnigan Lake south to the Capital Regional District in the Goldstream Heights area,” says CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure. “This non-motorized multi-use trail, in partnership with Malahat Nation, winds through second growth forests with overlooks that provide sweeping views above Shawnigan Lake and across the Saanich Peninsula/Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea.”

“We are glad the CVRD is finally recognizing the Malahat Nation’s ownership of their territory. We believe this will promote an active, healthy lifestyle for us and our neighbouring communities. We hope people will respect the territory as they travel through and admire its beauty. Malahat Nation remembers its history and is working hard towards building a better future,” says Malahat Nation Councillor Vince Harry. 

“The CRD is opening the new Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail as a major visitor opportunity in the vast 4,090-hectare Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park,” says CRD Board Chair Barbara Desjardins. “The park, along with adjacent watershed lands, helps protect Greater Victoria’s water supply, conserves biodiversity, and now provides recreational opportunities. The 13km unpaved trail offers outstanding hiking, cycling, and, in sections, horseback riding, across rivers, through forests, and over hilltops.”

In total, grant funders contributed more than $1.2 million to the completion of this important connection for The Great Trail on Vancouver Island. These include the Province of BC’s BikeBC program, TimberWest, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, and a Provincial fund dedicated to establishing this trail route.

Attachments: Backgrounder, maps

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Laurie Sthamann
CRD Communications Coordinator
Tel: 250.360.3332
Cell: 250.889.8030

Cynthia Lockrey
CVRD Manager Strategic Services
Tel: 250.701.2631
Cell: 250.701.2631

Victoria Leenders-Cheng
Communications advisor
Trans Canada Trail
Tel: 800 465.3636 ext. 4344
Cell: 514.485.4344   

Backgrounder

June 23 2017

Capital Region District (CRD)

The new 13km Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail (SHWT) lies between the Humpback Reservoir in the City of Langford and the Capital Regional District-Cowichan Valley Regional District boundary. This trail is the first visitor opportunity created within the Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park—a 4,090-hectare wilderness area. SHWT offers hiking and cycling, and in sections, horseback riding. A key feature is a 41-metre suspension bridge across the Goldstream River at the south end. At the north section are excellent hilltop vistas of the surrounding mountains, Finlayson Arm, and Greater Victoria.

The CRD gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance provided by the Trans Canada Trail organization, through grants totaling over $700,000, for trail planning and construction. Of particular note is a contribution from TimberWest to the TCT of $100,000 made specifically for the development of the SHWT. We also acknowledge the $500,000 contribution of the Province of BC for the development of these newest sections of The Great Trail in the CRD and CVRD. The support of funders has allowed the CRD to reach a goal that was first envisioned in the late 1990s. 

Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD)

The Cowichan Valley Trail is a 120km multi-use trail route that contributes a major portion of the 200 km The Great Trail on southern Vancouver Island and a section of the Vancouver Island Spine Trail. The Cowichan Valley Trail is popular with tourists and local residents, featuring landmarks such as the Historic Kinsol Trestle, Cowichan River Provincial Park and rail to trail trestles, the Great Trail Western Terminus in Lake Cowichan, and local attractions within many Cowichan communities along the route.

For the Cowichan Valley Trail – Malahat Connector project the CVRD gratefully acknowledges the partnership with Malahat Nation for support and alignment of a portion of the trail through Malahat’s lands inclusive of crossing Shawnigan Creek. Financial assistance of $440,000 for completing the trail was gratefully provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s BikeBC program and $360,000 in Federal Gas Tax Funding was also provided for the project.

The Great Trail (TGT)

The Great Trail is one of the world's longest networks of multi-use recreational trails. To the north, at the boundary of the Capital Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional District, The Great Trail route continues along the Cowichan Valley Trail. To the south, it winds through Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park, then on street and trails in the City of Langford and connects to the CRD’s Galloping Goose Regional Trail. It runs along the waterfront in the City of Victoria and ends at Clover Point.