The push is on to close the gaps on the Trans Canada Trail, including a missing link from Langford to Shawnigan Lake.
The TCT foundation wants the 22,000 kilometre trail done by 2017, when the Canada turns 150 years old.
The designated Pacific terminus for the trail is at Clover Point. Victoria is working on getting the trail from there to the Galloping Goose trail, which begins at the Johnson Street Bridge.
Originally the TCT was to follow the full length of the Goose and continue on past Sooke Potholes, through the ghost town Leechtown and follow the former CN rail line to Cowichan Lake, the western most point on the trail.
But Harold Sellers, project facilitator for the TCT in B.C., said changing water levels in the Sooke reservoir quashed that plan.
“It was a setback, from the perspective of completing the trail,” Sellers said, citing the years of work needed to secure a new connection to the next completed potion of the trail in Shawnigan Lake.
The current plan is to have the TCT break off the Goose near Luxton fairgrounds and veer northwest through undeveloped land into the Sooke Hills regional park, crossing Humpback Road, and continuing north through wilderness until it joins the rest of the trail.
The Capital Regional District is working within its boundaries to have designated right-of-ways created for portions of the trail that run through municipal or private property, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District is doing the same. But progress has been slow going.
CRD Parks manager Janette Loveys said there’s been little movement in the past few years to secure several sections of trail, totalling about four kilometres, through private property. But with new pressure to complete the project, she’s hoping to get negotiations moving again.
“There’s more interest than ever in bike paths, especially with Langford investing new money in trails,” Loveys said. “We’re not expecting much trouble, it’s just a matter of getting things going again.”
Loveys is optimistic land negotiations will wrap up within a year, but trail construction won’t begin until the CVRD is ready to start on its end and meet in the middle, likely in 2015.
“We both need to start at the same time so we aren’t just making a trail that stops in the middle of nowhere,” Loveys explained. “We’re planning to have it all done by 2015, so it will definitely be finished by the deadline (in 2017).”
Loveys said it was too early to say how much the project will cost, but pointed out that it’s something the CRD has been planning for some time and has money set aside. There are also grants available through the TCT foundation.
No bridges are needed on the CRD’s section of the trail. Loveys said the majority of the path will be unpaved gravel, similar to much of the Goose. There will be some ups and downs, but nothing the average trail user isn’t used to.
“There will be a variety of experience, going through the forest and around lakes, it will be a beautiful section of trail,” she said.
From Shawnigan lake, the TCT continues to Cowichan lake, crossing the recently re-opened Kinsol Trestle, and back through Duncan and to the Nanaimo ferry terminal for trail users who want to continue it onto the Mainland and potentially all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
See www.tctrail.ca for more on the Trans-Canada Trail.