Letter campaign to bolster recreation sites, trails in B.C. launched | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Letter campaign to bolster recreation sites, trails in B.C. launched

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. has launched a letter writing campaign to ask the province for more funding for the Recreaton Site and Trails B.C. agency.
February 28, 2021 - 4:31 PM

The Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia would like to see the province beef up its recreation sites and trails budget as residents continue to make the outdoors a priority destination in a COVID-19 restricted world.

Council Executive Director Louise Pedersen says COVID-19 has increased the pressures on these venues, as more people are getting outdoors.

"It’s great, but it means we need to invest in essential outdoor infrastructure,” she says.

Massive funding cuts in 2002 and 2003 have resulted in Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. – a small agency of around 50 staff working within the Ministry of Forests, Lands Natural Resources and Rural Development –  being underfunded for years.

The agency looks after 20,000 kilometres of trails and numerous recreation sites, all located on Crown land, throughout the province.

“We are an umbrella organization for many different recreational groups. Through many conversations with these groups, we have found one common concern is a lack of operational funding,” Pedersen says.

The agency’s current budget is around $8 million.

The lack of funding has made it difficult for trail groups to maintain existing trails, while some recreation sites are unsafe due to a lack of facilities, Pedersen says.

“Recreation Site and Trail staff are doing a great job working with user groups throughout the province. We just know they are overstretched,” Pedersen says.

The recreation council sent a letter to the premier on Feb.12, outlining the issue and making a request for an additional $4 million to be added to the budget for this year. The letter was endorsed by 25 recreation and tourism based organizations.

The additional funding would allow the agency to increase staffing levels by 40 per cent, Pedersen says.

She also noted her organization had a similar funding campaign underway to bolster B.C. Provincial Park budgets.

“There are no signs that interest in the outdoors is going to wane once the pandemic ends. I think we’ve all just discovered the benefits of spending more time outside. The province is also missing out on the economic benefits a well-resourced trail system can provide,” Pedersen says.

The recreation council is appealing to residents to participate in a letter-writing campaign in support of their request for an additional $4 million in funding over the next few days.

Pedersen encourages residents to go to the Outdoor Recreation Council website to add their names to the campaign.

“It’s easy and just takes a moment to fill in a form on our website,” she says.

The campaign ends Sunday.


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