It’s been an uphill climb, but the Cycle 16 Trail Society is making headway in its bid to create a paved path, separate from Highway 16, which links Telkwa, Smithers and rural areas.
Part of that challenge has been acquiring right-of-way (ROW) rights to the five private properties of land along the proposed route between the end of the Town of Smithers (where Highway 16 meets the Bulkley River) and the Village of Telkwa.
But after acquiring their first ROW agreement in May, Cycle 16 has now come to a ROW agreement with Wim and Inge Tersago, the second landowners along the proposed route.
In late May, Cycle 16 announced it had signed a ROW agreement with the Yuen family, owners of the Bulkley Valley RV Park (formerly the Smithers Par 3 golf course).
The plot of land was the first acquired property for the society. It also happened to be the first piece of land after the Smithers town boundary.
Cycle 16 president Tony Harris said he feels the two ROW agreements have rejuvenated interest in the project, which has been years in the making.
“I think people sense there’s actually something [that] could potentially happen, like before it was just like a wild dream for a while [but] now it’s sort of like oh maybe this will work,” said Harris.
The recently-acquired ROW is the second property after the Town’s boundary.
Harris said the new agreement puts the society within reach of completing a desired goal.
“That allows us to actually consider we might be successful getting to phase 1, to Laidlaw Road,” said Harris.
Funding for the new ROW agreement is coming from Smithers resident Ellen Hansen who is the trustee of the Kassandra Trust, which funds selected initiatives in Northern Communities.
Hansen also provided funding for the ROW agreement between Cycle 16 and the Yuen family.
“Sow she’s offered to pay for this one … so it’s a fantastic deal,” said Harris.
On top of fundraising and ROW agreements, another issue the society is dealing with is ownership of the trail itself.
With that in mind, the society has made a formal request to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) asking them if they’d agree to own the trail.
Harris notes that neither the Town nor the Village can own it (due to certain parts of the trail being outside of both jurisdictions) and that there needs to be some ownership protocol in place for the development.
Having the district take ownership of the trail will also mean the RDBN can apply for grants on its behalf.
Harris said it will likely be a while before they hear back.
“They’re going through a process right now and they will consider it, so we might get an answer from them back in the next year maybe or so.”
On their website the society said their vision is “to have a paved path, separate from the highway, linking Telkwa, Smithers and rural areas, for the benefit and enjoyment of locals and visitors.”