In 2011, Valemount resident Marion Farquharson got an idea: what if the village built a trail around town to encourage more people to walk through the community? She had noticed how tourists stayed in the hotel district and few would venture downtown. Fewer still would make it to Main St.
She guessed the reason tourists didn’t venture past the Caribou Grill is they didn’t realize the village extended beyond the railway crossing. It may also have been because they didn’t realize they could loop back into town via Dogwood St.
At first her idea was to paint big foot tracks along the side of the road to encourage people to follow them. From those humble beginnings, grew the Big Foot Trail as we see it today – a beautiful paved trail complete with painted lines, benches, garbage cans and signs.
Last Saturday was the grand opening of the Big Foot Trail. Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond was there along with Farquharson and Mayor Andru McCracken to cut the ribbon.
“One of the things about this trail that is so special is that it is really owned by the community,” said McCracken, noting the public input received about the rocks initially placed on the trail and feedback on improvements that could be made to it.
Bond said she is happy that people have already been using the trail. She gave Farquharson a special thank you for having the vision.
“We appreciate people who come forward to Council and say ‘Let’s do something.’”
The trail was built using many local contractors under the supervision of lead contractor Alpine Country Rentals. Sub-contractors included ARC Asphalt Recycling, BABOS Mechanical, D & E Parts Garden, GDA Contracting, Highland Timberworks, Lakewest Enterprises, SPAZ Logging, Spiral Contracting, and Tee Nee Enterprises.
The trail has been used by children on bicycles, seniors on scooters, people walking their dogs, and anyone travelling as a pedestrian. While almost every road in Valemount is paved, there are few sidewalks. The trail also connects with a gravel footpath under the highway bridge at Swift Creek.
Goat interviews with pedestrians on the trail uncovered many reasons for enjoying the trail: it allowed pedestrians to “zone out” while they walked; better access to Centennial Park; improving traffic flow from the highway into town; having a smooth surface to ride a bike or roller blade on.
The Big Foot theme pays heed to an early and documented sighting of what was thought to be a sasquatch in the Tete Jaune area. Tourism Valemount is investigating ways of signing and promoting the concept to visitors.
The project was funded by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development (Community Recreation Program) $304,457; Columbia Basin Trust (Community Initiatives Program) $137,497; Columbia Basin Trust (Contribution to all Communities that applied for the Community Recreation Program) $24,553; andVillage of Valemount (Public Works in-kind contribution) $24,553. The total budgeted cost is $491,059. The Bigfoot Trail Working Group, a sub-committee of the Tourism Valemount Committee, facilitated the construction.
By: Laura Keil