Monday May 1, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
A one-time grant of $10 million to the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORCBC) was announced today for establishing a new endowment fund that will improve and enhance outdoor recreation for people in B.C.
“The surging interest in outdoor recreation not only continues to put a strain on volunteer organizations and B.C.’s trail networks, but also on local recreation groups that collaborate with provincial agencies, such as Recreation Sites and Trails BC, to manage and maintain these valuable community assets,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“The new Outdoor Recreation Fund will provide a boost to the volunteer organizations and community groups that are integral to delivering quality outdoor recreation experiences. These services enhance our outdoor experiences and contribute to the emotional, physical and mental well-being of British Columbians.”
The funds will be used for supplies and equipment, to create signage, and in some cases for outsourcing some work to contractors.
70 outdoor recreation clubs:
The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC is a non-profit umbrella organization representing approximately 70 outdoor recreation clubs and associations that construct and maintain trails and recreation sites, and organizes events and trips for their members and the public. ORCBC also delivers educational programs that foster responsible outdoor practices and is active in conservation, outreach and safety initiatives. Their members help maintain more than 20% of B.C.’s trails (8,500 kilometres) annually.
Construction and maintenance of trails:
“The construction and maintenance of a large portion of B.C.’s trails and recreation infrastructure rely on the hard work of hundreds of community-based recreation clubs and thousands of dedicated volunteers,” said Louise Pedersen, executive director, ORCBC.
“For far too long, these volunteer groups have struggled to access reliable funding sources for activities, such as ongoing trail maintenance to improve the overall visitor experience and protect the environment. We are exceptionally grateful that the Province has stepped up with a substantial contribution that will allow the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC to establish the new Outdoor Recreation Fund.”
Nearly 500 individuals, recreation organizations and Indigenous communities have formal agreements with the Province to maintain trails and associated facilities. Many organizations also support trails outside of formal agreements. The new fund provides reliable and consistent access to grants for groups, such as the Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society.
Reliance on volunteers:
Established in 2015, the society has approximately 40 volunteers who have spent thousands of hours working on trail projects in the Greater Victoria region. Every month, the society leads regular maintenance sessions to ensure the trails and surrounding natural spaces remain in good condition.
“The Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society relies on volunteers to build and maintain safe and sustainable trails for all types of users – walkers, runners, climbers and riders,” said Daniel Cammiade, executive director of the Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society. “Nature has sustained us for eons, now we need to sustain nature. This is a welcome and timely investment in safe and sustainable recreation in B.C.”
$71 million in operating and capital funding:
In addition to the $10-million contribution to establish the new Outdoor Recreation Fund, Budget 2023 invests $71 million in operating and capital funding over the fiscal plan to help preserve and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC.
- Recreation Sites and Trails BC has an extensive network of more than 635 trails and almost 200 trail networks, representing more than 20,000 kilometres of trails, which are used for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-road vehicles, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
- B.C.’s recreation trails range from basic, single-track paths through dense forest to wide-tracked rail trails with high-quality tread surfaces.
- There are also many heritage trails that trace the footsteps of early pioneers and provide historical and cultural perspectives to outdoor recreation.
- Recreation Sites and Trails BC has developed several mountain-biking trail systems in collaboration with mountain-bike associations and local communities.
===== GOVERNMENT LINKS:
For information about Recreation Sites and Trails BC, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/sports-culture/recreation/camping-hiking/sites-trails/planning/description
For information about the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC and the grant program, visit: https://www.orcbc.ca/