The Bulkley Valley Bowmen are looking to make significant trail upgrades to the archery grounds to make them more accessible to all ages.
As part of the $50,000-project, the club wants to upgrade 2.7 kilometres of trails, build three light-duty, 18-foot-long bridges, construct four resting sites and an embankment with a culvert to bridge a small seasonal stream.
“A couple of years ago, we decided we wanted to make the facility more inclusive, more accessible for families with younger children, for older people and handicapped people,” said Eric Becker, the fundraiser for the project.
“It’s such a spectacular facility down there and we do need to share it. That’s where we’re kind of going with this, to make the trails easier to navigate by everyone.”
According to Becker, it’s been roughly two decades since the club made any significant upgrades to its existing 16 hectares of flood plain located along the Bulkley River south of the downtown area of Smithers.
The current trail system is used during competitions and club activities and is comprised of a simple network of pathways through the forest. They will need to be widened to two-and-a-half metres.
“It’ll provide easier, accessible ways to get out and enjoy what the valley has to offer. In some ways, it’ll be similar to the perimeter trail, in terms of the terrain and the type of walking,” said Becker.
Access Smithers, a volunteer committee that focuses on making areas around town more accessible, submitted a letter of support to town council.
“Archery and bowmenship is a popular outdoor sport for young and old. To be able to offer it to all, inclusively, will be a wonderful asset to our community,” said the letter.
Becker admitted there isn’t a designated timeline for the project, but that the length will depend on if they can secure funding.
“If we’re restricted to using club funds, then it will take quite a while,” he said, adding that they have already received help from the Smithers Rotary Club and the Wetzin’Kwa Community Forest Corporation, and are continuing to apply for more grant funding.
The club has a membership of 60 to 120 people, and Becker estimated 1,500 people use the grounds on an annual basis, including people who come for tournaments, Girl Guides, Scouts, the Town of Smithers, the fire department and old timers hockey.