Invermere to Fairmont – benefits of the Westside Legacy Trail

 In News
[lead]The Westside Legacy Trail will be a community driven, grass-roots landmark that will have many positive effects on the communities in the Columbia Valley.[/lead]

The new Westside Legacy Trail’s benefits apply to locals, part-timers, and visitors to our area alike – and will attract more people to our wonderful Valley. Following in similar footsteps as other large trail projects in BC, we hope to bring about many benefits – some of which include:

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Community health

Common trail activities such as walking, bicycling and cross-country skiing are all relatively inexpensive activities that provide accessible recreation opportunities to all community members. There is also evidence that improved trail facilities mean greater participation in healthy activities. There is significant evidence that participation in these activities results in not only better physical health, but better mental health. Healthy individuals result in a healthier community and lower health care costs.[/list-group-item] [list-group-item]

Economic development

A 25 km paved recreational pathway is an asset that very few communities have, combined with the incredible scenic vistas of Lake Windermere, the Columbia Valley and the historic K2 ranch. Providing locals, second home owners and tourists with a multi-use trail, encourages all of these groups to spend more time in the Columbia Valley, which will provide economic development opportunities for retailers and other businesses such as sports equipment rentals, shuttles, restaurants and hotels.
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Educational benefits

Access to the less developed side of the valley will allow users to interact with the natural flora and fauna of the Columbia Valley. Education initiatives including interpretive signage will offer unique hands-on learning opportunities that are reinforced by individuals having access to the “wild side” of the valley.
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Community access

This trail will initially link the communities of Invermere and Fairmont Hot Springs and the families that live between. This physical link will not only allow alternative transportation and commuting opportunities, but will also bring together many users in an environment that encourages interaction and community building as is currently being experienced upon the Lake Windermere Whiteway. Over 80% of the trail will be located on lands protected from further residential development.
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Walkers, runners and cyclists already put Westside road to prolific use. These users assume nearly all of the risk of sharing the road with motor vehicles. Separating these users will make both recreating and driving in this area a safer experience for everyone. When Westside Road is eventually resurfaced, vehicle speeds may increase making an off-highway trail a safer experience.
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Walkers, runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers… Families, seniors, teens… a paved trail is an asset for many user groups engaging in multiple activities throughout the day and throughout the year.
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This infrastructure will draw event organizers to the valley to add new event opportunities to the list of non-motorized events currently being hosted.
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The paved trail will benefit our community today, and with proper upkeep our children and their children. Just as the roman roads are used all over Europe today, the Legacy Trail will be built in a sustainable manner that will bring significant benefits in the future with minimal future cost.
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The project is being undertaken by the Columbia Valley Greenways Trail Alliance, a registered charity with a 13 year history of delivering successful community projects from Golden to Canal Flats, BC. The directors of Greenways are representatives from a variety of local service clubs, privately owned for-profit entities and the Village of Canal Flats.


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