After a decade of relatively slow progress, the dream of a bicycle trail linking Smithers and Telkwa is gathering serious momentum.
Most recently the Cycle 16 Trail Society, which now boasts more than 1,000 members, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to consider owning the trail; hired a project manager, Allan Kindrat at WSP in Canada; applied for funding to complete detailed construction drawings; and is in negotiations with the Town of Smithers and Village of Telkwa on providing ongoing maintenance.
These are all major steps forward, said Tony Harris, Cycle 16 president because the society cannot own the trail, nor has the capacity to maintain it. And he believes turning over the reigns to a professional project manager will expedite progress.
“That’s a pretty big thing, getting young, intelligent, educated energy on board now, I think it will kind of move things a bit faster.
Now the group is looking for public feedback. A survey on the society’s website (cycle16.ca) asks residents and potential visitors to weigh in on current cycling concerns, trail benefits and usage, general support for and provide other comments.
The survey will be open until Aug. 1 and Cycle 16 hopes the results will help support future grant applications as they move toward the construction phase of the project.
Respondees have a chance to win a gift basket dubbed a “Good Grub Box” from Rustica Bakery and Riverside Kitchen Co.
Rustica has been largely responsible for a dramatic increase of around 250 in Cycle 16 membership over the past two or three months with an ongoing fundraiser that has also been putting significant dollars into the society’s coffers, Harris said.
“Meg Roberts [Rustica owner], on her driveway, been putting a chest of drawers with croissants and an honesty box for cyclists and walkers who want them and she’s been giving us the 25 per cent of the proceeds of that,” he said.
In June, Rustica transferred $1,230 to the society.
“It’s sort of brought the cycling community together during the time of COVID, it’s been a fun thing,” Harris added.
In August, Cycle 16 and Rustica are taking the croissant dresser on the road. Dubbed “The Tour de Croissants,” each Saturday in August, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the chest of drawers will be at a different location in the Smithers-Telkwa area.
Aug. 1, The Creamery, Telkwa; Aug. 8, Smithers Community Garden/bike park; Aug. 15, Lake Kathlyn Beach; Aug. 22, Muheim Elementary School; and Aug. 29, Driftwood School.
Passports for the tour are available at The Creamery and anyone who participates on three of the five Saturdays will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a Cycle 16 apron and croissant-making tutorial with Rustica.
Overall, Harris said they are starting to see the project as less of a dream and more a potential reality.
We feel very positive that it’s going to happen,” he said. “There’s definitely some stoppers along that way we’ve got to be realistic about, but we just have to work our way over those.”