The North Eastman portion of the Trans Canada Trail is getting some much-needed funding from the Building Canada Fund.
A boost of $2.9 million announced last weekend will go toward making the Border to Beaches trail project a reality. The project is a trail completion initiative of the Manitoba Recreational Trails Association (MRTA) supported by the Trans Canada Trail and regional trail associations.
When completed, the trail will extend from Beaconia on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, through Lac du Bonnet and Pinawa and all the way to Falcon Lake. More than 200 kms of the Border to Beaches trail have already been completed, with only 165 kms of trail remaining to be constructed.
“Once complete, it will be an icon of the tourist industry in the province and a great recreation asset,” MRTA president Ruth Marr said in a statement.
The last significant portion of funding given to the Manitoba portion of the Trans Canada Trail was announced in 2006, when Premier Gary Doer announced $1 million in provincial funding.
“This is a labour of love for all of us,” Doer said about the Trans Canada Trail, adding the work of local volunteers has been invaluable to the success of the trail’s continued development. “That passion is to be commended.”
Doer was also backed by well-known broadcaster Valerie Pringle, who serves as chairperson for the Trans Canada Trail. Pringle praised the new funding announced last weekend as a vital part of making the Border to Beaches project a reality.
“The Border to Beaches Trail will be a jewel of the Trans Canada Trail,” Pringle said about the new funding.
The Trans-Canada Trail is a “shared-use” trail that winds its way across the country. It was started in 1992, and is currently made up of over 18,000 kilometres of donated trail.
The Manitoba portion spans 1,300 kilometres so far and crosses from the west side of the province to the Pinawa and Lac du Bonnet areas before heading into Ontario.
Kathy Picard and Leslie Wakeman of Lac du Bonnet Centennial School tend the Lac du Bonnet portion of the trail. The two are the original members of the local Blueberry Rock Development Committee, now known as the Blue Water Trail South Committee.
Picard said the group’s goal is to encourage people to use the trail, but a lack of resources has put a damper on recent efforts.
“It’s hard to do with just a couple people, we’re always looking for more members,” she said. She was happy to hear about the new funding, but said all the money in the world won’t help if there aren’t enough people to help tend to the trail.
Recent vandalism at Blueberry Rock is also disconcerting, she said. Garbage cans have been damaged and defaced by paintball guns, and picnic tables have also been damaged.
“That site is there for everyone to enjoy, so we hope to see the damage stop altogether,” she said.
A small cleanup effort took place last weekend, she noted.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the trail committee can call 345-8422.