Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is hopeful an application to the provincial Rural Dividend Program for design funds for the West Bay Trail from Salmon Arm to Little Shuswap Lake will be accepted in 2020. (Google Maps photo)

Salmon Arm mayor hopeful funds for major eco-tourism project not lost

West Bay Connector Trail application to Rural Dividend Program could come through in 2020

Work on a project described as one that would open up ‘untold economic opportunities for eco-tourism’ in the Shuswap has been delayed, but possibly not for long.

The West Bay Trail would be a connector trail that would extend from the elevated walkway along the foreshore of Salmon Arm Bay, past Peter Jannink Park, paralleling the the railway tracks, travelling through both Adams Lake and Neskonlith band land and then ultimately connecting to Little Shuswap Lake.

The City of Salmon Arm, the Adams Lake band and the Neskonlith band have developed a memorandum of understanding for the long-term project, which allows them to apply jointly for funding.

Read more: Shuswap groups left with uncertain future after rural dividend funding suspended

Read more: Rural Dividend fund supports project across North Okanagan and Shuswap

Funds from the Rural Dividend Program, however, which they applied to in order to do design work, were moved by the provincial government to assist communities impacted by mill closures and curtailments.

Mayor Alan Harrison recently received a reply from Sarah Fraser, executive director of the program, who explained the program has been suspended, not cancelled. She said the government extended the program’s funding in the 2018/19 provincial budget to 2020/21 and so more application intake periods are anticipated.

Fraser wrote: “I understand that the City of Salmon Arm applied to the program’s sixth intake period for phase 1 of the West Bay Connector Trail Plan. We appreciate the time and effort that goes into developing a proposed project. We appreciate your application to the program and look forward to reviewing your proposed project in the future.”

She said once an intake of applications is announced, the program will work with the city as much as possible to ensure the West Bay Trail application can be updated to avoid duplication of work.

Read more: City defers grant application on foreshore trail expansion

Harrison said council wrote to the province to ensure the trail project is on its radar “for a future intake which we hope is 2020.”

At a recent presentation to the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce, Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said in the big picture, the city knows the connector trail can be built because of the success of the rail trail, which has moved forward thanks to collaborative relationships.

He describes the West Bay Trail as an exciting project, one which “opens up untold opportunities for eco-tourism.”


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