Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society volunteers work on refurbishing a trail.

Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society volunteers work on refurbishing a trail.

EVERY – trail – CONNECTS

Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society hopes to increase access to outdoor spaces

Wilderness is never far away in Greater Victoria. It’s such a familiar part of the landscape that it often goes unnoticed.

The outdoor community hopes to change that with an ambitious plan to share the joy of nature, and open the backwoods trail system to more users.

Enter the Southern Vancouver Island Nature Trails Society, also known by its acronym SVINTS.

Recognizing the region has an abundance of natural surface trails, the trails society wants to create an “epic network” of accessible multi discipline trails that animates locals and inspires tourists to revel in Greater Victoria’s backyard.

And while Greater Victoria has hundred of nature trails spanning thousands of hectares from Gowlland Tod Provincial Park to East Sooke, many are not coordinated or even connected to each other, said Daniel Cammiade, SVINTS executive director.

“It’s important for us to be out in these areas and that people realize what a special place we have and need to protect,” he said.

The first major project, which could take 10 years to complete, is to connect two large epic loops in the region.

The first will travel through Gowlland Tod Provincial Park into Hartland-Mt. Work Regional Park, then into the Thetis Lake Regional Park to connect back, together at Bear Mountain.

The second loop is much larger and would travel from Bear Mountain through the Sooke Hills to Leechtown and back using the Galloping Goose Trail.

The connections are important for a lot of good reasons: increased visitation to the parks, increased variety of trails for different users and environmental stewardship.

“This to create the most effective trail system we can to accommodate all users: hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, dog walkers, horseback riders, commuting cyclists and families,” Cammiade said.

The second phase of the project would see more work with specific trail networks that the bigger loops connect with, such as those aimed directly to hikers, mountain bikers and horse riders.

“It’s not that the nature trails society is strictly about shared use or we are trying to get cycling trails in everywhere,” Cammiade said.

“It’s mostly about getting these two great big corridors to connect things together and to get these different users out to the areas.”

The  trails society was formed a year ago after Cammiade did extensive work on the Greater Victoria trail system through his professional work as a cartographer and writer.

He soon was in contact with EcoAsis, the new owners of Bear Mountain, who were interested in working with the outdoor recreational community.

The original plan was to connect the trails from Brentwood Bay to Leechtown and then he took it  a step further and made those connections into loops by using the Galloping Goose Trail in Sooke with some work he did with the South Island Mountain Bike Society.

The process, so far, has seen the trails society create steward ship agreements with B.C. Parks,  private land owners and municipalities. On Monday night, Cammiade and the society made a presentation to District of Sooke council.

Many of the trails that the society will work on already exist and require a little bushwhacking and levelling to put into use again with all of the weekend work done by volunteers. As for property acquisition, most of the land can be found in provincial and regional parks.

“I don’t think we should just be able to go out and use any part of the backwoods we want,” Cammiade pointed out. “We want – we need – to manage these area but at the same time still make sure sensitive plants and animals have enough room.”

For more on the work of SVINTS please email info@naturetrailssociety.com.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read