As a key part of their master trail plan, the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society will install a hiking and biking bridge over salmon-bearing Beaver Creek that will serve as a gateway and catalyst to their trail system, with investment from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital and Innovation Program.

Well-planned tourism experiences, such as hiking and cycling excursions, are key ways of building a higher yield and year-round visitor economy in the Cowichan Lake Region. In 2018, a regional collaboration of western Cowichan communities partnered to develop a Tourism Action Plan and trails master plan, also funded by Island Coastal Economic Trust, to develop tourism as a sustainable economic driver, specifically focusing on tourism product and infrastructure development.

“Beaver Creek plays a significant role in the forested destination trail system we plan to create for hikers and bikers living or visiting the Cowichan Lake Valley,” says Julia Martinusen, Secretary Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society. “This new bridge will help preserve the natural habitat of the salmon-bearing stream, which offers great educational value.”

Through a partnership with Mosaic Forest Management, the timberlands manager for TimberWest and Island Timberlands, Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers
Society will have access to more than 1,000 hectares of private forest land on which to build the trails. The aluminum bridge will be built, maintained, and promoted by the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society. It will span safely from one creek bank to the other and the design will be sustainable, economical, and not interfere with the sensitivities of the creek bed.

“We are very proud to be a part of this low carbon and active tourism project that will enhance and protect Beaver Creek in the Cowichan Valley. This new public infrastructure will open up a network of trails on privately held land which will help boost the reputation of the Cowichan Lake region as a hiking and mountain biking destination,” says Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust. “It will also be exciting to watch how the bridge helps expand the tourism appeal into the shoulder seasons, where more people will have the opportunity to experience salmon spawning without any negative impacts on habitat.”

“It is really exciting to see the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society’s vision come to life,” says Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley and leader of the BC Greens. “The work that has been done over many years has paid off, this is a big investment into a sustainable economic future for the region that will connect the communities to each other and to their environment.”
The Beaver Creek Trail Bridge is supported through the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $18,000 to a total project budget of $36,000. The project will be underway imminently.

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.
Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $59 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $322 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.