FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(LYTTON) Communities from Hope to Barkerville and beyond will get a chance to restore and promote some of their most famous heritage trails thanks to a $2 million grant from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.
The grant to the New Pathways to Gold Society (NPTGS) will enable communities and other partners to help rediscover and restore the network of trails along the corridor’s historic routes like the Cariboo Wagon Road and the Douglas Portage.
“New Pathways thanks the government for giving corridor communities the opportunity to develop more tourism opportunities in the Fraser River corridor by the conservation, development and promotion of these historical gold rush and First Nations trails and other heritage features,” said NPTGS co-chair Byron Spinks of Lytton.
“It’s a direct result of a historic tour of the Fraser Canyon on September 8, 2009 by the Premier and Ministers Barry Penner, Blair Lekstrom, Bill Bennett and Kevin Krueger. It shows government was listening to the hopes and aspirations of the First Nations and non-First Nations communities.”
The Heritage Trails Project reflects the NPTGS’ goal of increasing economic activity along these historic routes. The area encompasses the Hope to Barkerville corridor, the Harrison Lake-Lillooet Lake-Seton Lake-Lillooet route and the Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade-First Nations trails east of Alexandra Lodge.
The grant, received in early April, will allow NPTGS and partner communities and organizations to work on four major heritage routes. While final details have yet to be finalized, the preliminary plan is to provide:
- Approximately $300,000 to improve the trails around and the access to the Alexandra Bridge Provincial Heritage site near Yale
- About $1 million for a snow mobile trail from 100 Mile House to Barkerville to be built by the Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition
- Some $300,000 for the Brigade Trail-First Nations route from the Anderson River to the Coldwater River. Part of this trail starting at Alexandra Lodge has been the focus of preliminary work by local First Nations
- Another $300,000 for the Douglas-Spirit Trail from the top of Lake Harrison through the Lillooet River to the Pemberton Valley. The 1858 road commissioned by Governor James Douglas winds through a beautiful, rugged and sacred landscape. The In-SHUCK-ch First Nation have done preliminary work on this route
- The balance of the funds will go to mapping, cataloguing and restoring the Cariboo Wagon Road from Hope to Barkerville. The road will provide a vital “heritage spine” around which complimentary trail and heritage projects will revolve.
“The Cariboo Wagon Road section of the initiative is critical,” said NPTGS co-chair Chris O’Connor.
“It will tie the Fraser Canyon and the Cariboo together just like it did during the gold rush and benefit dozens of communities throughout the corridor.”
The Heritage Trails initiative is a result of the government’s proactive heritage tourism strategy as well as NPTGS’ on-going dialogue with government, local community leaders, heritage groups, businesses and academics. NPTGS is committed to working with communities to determine the best way of spending the funds.
“Receiving this money from the province is just the first step in the process,” said O’Connor. “We’ll be working with communities to establish a technical committee to work out all the details.”
NPTGS hopes to leverage the provincial grant to gain additional infrastructure money from organizations such as the Northern Development Initiative Trust for the Cariboo Wagon Road portion of the initiative (NPTGS and the NDIT have worked in partnership for two years to help deliver heritage and heritage tourism projects such as The Motherlode musical review and the Canyon War documentary to corridor communities).
The Society is also committed to working with business and corporate sponsors to leverage further funds for the initiative.
NPTGS is working with Heritage Branch and other partners to fine tune cost estimates. NPTGS will also work closely with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts regarding the maintenance and development of trails on Crown land.