As a long-time advocate for community development through not-for-profit work, I would like to give kudos to the Shuswap Trail Alliance and the leadership that has made it a successful model for regional planning around trail building.
Regional planning is not an easy accomplishment, even between local governments sharing interests, needs, economy and a physical environment such as Shuswap Lake and watershed and the benefits and challenges that come with it.
The Shuswap Trail Alliance has literally, from the ground up, brought every community and culture in the Shuswap/North Okanagan together to create the following: a network of trails that provide opportunity year-round for healthy family activity, a reconnection to our natural environment, a heightened sense of responsibility for the environment, an enhancement to the local tourism economy, a template for not-for -profit, government and aboriginal community partnerships, as well as widespread volunteerism around a common purpose.
Provincial and federal governments increasingly recognize the critical role played by not-for-profit societies and charitable organizations in developing services for and around communities.
The fact that not-for-profit organizations can access a variety of funding sources, including private and corporate-sponsored donations not available to regional and municipal governments, makes them huge assets to development in all communities.
Organizations like the Shuswap Trail Alliance have provided, and will continue to provide, significant employment locally with the support and co-operation of local governments.
I wish to thank Phil McIntyre-Paul and his team of hard-working, passionate volunteer leaders for the amazing work they have done in our regional district and local municipalities. You are an inspiration to many.