by EVAN MATTHEWS
Soon, people living with mobility challenges will be able to better access Cranberry Marsh.
Gord Peters, A Valemount resident, first initiated the idea for The Cranberry Marsh Mobility Trail — as the project will be known — as he first approached the Yellowhead Outdoor Recreation Association (YORA) with an idea to upgrade the trail through the marsh, so “it would be accessible to everyone.”
“The Cranberry Marsh is a local treasure,” says Peters.
“But due to the uneven terrain and loose, sandy soil on the existing trail, people in wheelchairs, those using walkers or canes, parents with children in strollers, and even cyclists have a difficult time making their way through this beautiful area,” he says.
“My mother loved being out in nature and was in a wheelchair for the last few years of her life. She would have loved to be able to enjoy a gem like the Cranberry Marsh,” – Gord Peters, organizer of the Cranberry Marsh Mobility Trail Project
Peters says he then approached the Village of Valemount and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, as the Ministry manages the area.
“They were both really excited by the idea, especially since the Village had recently completed two boardwalk sections on the north end of the marsh,” says Peters.
A working group was formed between YORA and Peters, and the pair developed a plan.
Phase one will see the (mobility) trail from the Best Western Hotel to the end of the dyke, a distance of approximately one-kilometer, leveled and resurfaced with a low maintenance, environmentally friendly product known as CORE Gravel stabilizer panels.
A second planned phase will connect this trail with the new boardwalks and also resurface the sections between the boardwalks, creating a three-kilometer area of accessible trail around the marsh.
Funding in the amount of $78,675 is being provided by a Columbia Basin Trust Recreation Infrastructure grant, Tourism Valemount, through the Resort Municipality Initiatives program, as well as from the Ministry’s budget.
“We had amazing support for this project,” says Peters, mentioning MLA for Prince George-Valemount Shirley Bond, the Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society, and Spinal Cord Injury B.C.
“This new Mobility Trail will be great for residents and visitors alike,” says Peters.
“My mother loved being out in nature and was in a wheelchair for the last few years of her life. She would have loved to be able to enjoy a gem like the Cranberry Marsh,” he says.
Though construction of the Cranberry Marsh Mobility Trail will start in summer 2017, it will happen either before or after the sensitive nesting season, according to Peters, and will be managed by the Ministry.