People who like to recreate in the Slocan Valley are the bigger winners after the Columbia Basin Trust awarded a $250,000 Recreation Infrastructure Grant to the Slocan Community Recreational Greenway Project.

The funding comes through a unique partnership comprised of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rec Sites and Trails BC, and the Slocan Valley Heritage Trail Society (SVHTS).

“This funding allows us to expand the recreational opportunities between (South Slocan and Crescent Valley) communities as well as making it more accessible to a wider level of fitness levels,” said Craig Lawrence long time SVHTS Director and Greenway Project proponent.

“Now we’ll have an area for the ever growing range of recreation fitness activities – in line skating, long boarding, cross training, parents on roller blades pushing their strollers.”

The funding aims to improve and develop trails to join communities, schools, recreation assets, neighbourhoods, local business centres, larger trail networks and wild areas for the enjoyment of the Slocan Valley.

The project will include the paving of the bottom four kilometer of the Slocan Valley Rail Trail (SVRT) from South Slocan to Crescent Valley, which will enable the RDCK to further develop Crescent Valley Beach Park.

Lawrence said the paving would give those with limited mobility the opportunity to safely exercise with confidence in an outdoor environment.

“The easier you make it for people to recreate, the more inclined the marginally active will be to take advantage of the opportunity,” Lawrence said.

Part of the project is the agreement by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s to construct a pedestrian underpass at South Slocan will provide a gateway to the Trans Canada Trail.

The underpass is part of renovations to the bridge on Highway 3A at South Slocan expected to be completed in 2017.

“This project is a great example of groups and organizations working in partnership to create something beneficial for the community as a whole,” said Kindy Gosal, Columbia Basin Trust Director of Special Initiatives.

“The project is a good fit for our Recreation Infrastructure Grants, and we’re very happy to see it coming together.”

RDCK Area H Director Walter Popoff says the partnership demonstrates what can be achieved when local government and citizens work together for the betterment of their communities.

“Thanks to this funding from the Trust, residents and visitors from around the region will have easier access to our incredible parks and trails system.”

Lawrence said the upgrades allow the Slocan Valley Rail Trail to be a connector to the Trans-Canada Trail by providing the cycling tourist with 52 kilometers of scenic trails through the Slocan Valley.

“This culminates the next stage of a multi-year journey within the SVHTS,” Lawrence explains.

“First we have had to wait for years to see if we even could develop our southernmost trailhead at South Slocan. By working with the MoTI, we now have a commitment to a pedestrian underpass being created in South Slocan to help achieve that.”

“Now by partnering with the RDCK, Bike BC, and today with the Columbia Basin Trust, we have created a unique opportunity to develop this community asset,” Lawrence adds.

“We are humbled by the fact that others recognize the wide range of benefits this project will now make possible.”

For more information regarding the Slocan Valley Rail Trail visit the website.