A group of cycling enthusiasts trying to build a paved path separate from the highway from Smithers to Telkwa has achieved its first major milestone.
Last week, Cycle 16 announced it had signed a right of way (ROW) agreement with the Yuen family, owners of the Bulkley Valley RV Park (formerly the par 3 golf course).
“I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about it,” said Tony Harris Cycle 16 president. “It’s like we can take a deep breath and say, ‘well, this actually may be a possibility.”
Although this piece is a tangible breakthrough, the project has crossed other significant milestones. Earlier this year, Cycle 16 unveiled an engineering report made possible with funding from the province and the B.C. Alliance for Healthy living.
“We’ve achieved a lot, actually, but this is the first bit we can say is concrete and tangible,” Harris said.
“I’m so grateful to Ellen Hanson of the Kassandra Trust and Dale Perry [who] did most of the [legal] work pro bono,” Harris said.
The Trust provided $22,000 in March 2018 to advance the project.
In a May 23 press release, Harris also noted the generosity of the Yuen family and “countless others who donated numerous hours of volunteer time.”
For Harris, the Smithers-Telkwa cycle route has been decades in the making.
“We tried to do this trail 20 years ago and we ended up with nothing,” he said. “Someone advised me, get the pieces that you can get and future generations can fill it the pieces you can’t get. That’s been a major motivation for me, personally… getting out of Smithers, if we couldn’t get past the par 3 golf course, then we can’t get through the Giddings farm at the other end, we’ve got nothing.”
Having that first ROW is a relief, Harris said, that allows the Cycle 16 board to concentrate on moving forward.
“We’ve got that, we can put that aside, it’s in the safe somewhere, I’m not going to worry about that anymore, now we can totally focus on the next piece,” Harris said.
“Now, getting up the hill, we don’t have an agreement with the next land owner, so we have to figure out how we can get up that hill. The next step after that is the cattle underpass and then after that is the ministry of transportation, the regional district, BC Hydro, [those] are the kind of agreements we have to come up with.”