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Just 34.5 kilometres left to build on national trail through Cowichan

Cyclists ride the Trans-Canada Trail from Glenora Trailhead Park to the Kinsol Trestle during June’s Pedal to the Trestle event. They’ll soon be able to go all the way to Victoria if they want thanks to a federal grant announced Tuesday. - Andrew Leong/file
Cyclists ride the Trans-Canada Trail from Glenora Trailhead Park to the Kinsol Trestle during June’s Pedal to the Trestle event. They’ll soon be able to go all the way to Victoria if they want thanks to a federal grant announced Tuesday.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

The path to completing Cowichan’s 120-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Trail comes courtesy of Ottawa matching cash raised by the TCT Foundation, the regional parks manager applauded.

Brian Farquhar cheered Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s news Tuesday — announced on the trail’s historic Kinsol Trestle — federal taxpayers would toss $1 toward the hiking-biking-horse trail for every $2 gained by the foundation.

“We have 85.5 kilometres of trail complete.

“Now we’re working with Malahat First Nation for a detailed trail alignment and design from the south end of Shawnigan Lake to the Capital Regional District boundary,” he said.

Remaining sections, linking northern Cowichan to Nanaimo regional district, are also being planned.

When completed by 2017 — saluting Canada’s 150th birthday —  the 24,000-km coast-to-coast route it will be one of the world’s longest recreational trail networks, a foundation release reads.

“It will help Canadians enjoy closer connections to some of our country’s most awe-inspiring places.

“The trail is expected to generate millions of dollars in economic benefits in the years to come by creating local jobs and supporting the tourism industry.”

Cowichan is already enjoying jobs and visits from $10 million worth of trail through The Warm Land, said Farquhar.

About $1 million — plus $6.4 million for the trestle’s restoration — came from the Cowichan Valley Regional District coffers. The balance came from public grants and other donors, he explained.

The total 120-km route through Cowichan runs from the top of Malahat to the Kinsol Trestle, out to the Town of Lake Cowichan on the south side of the river, through Cowichan River Provincial Park, then along the north side on the E&N rail trails and connecting to Chemainus, Saltair and Ladysmith to Nanaimo’s regional limits west of Nanaimo airport.

Motorized vehicles are banned.

The foundation looks to local organizations, like the CVRD and other groups, to dish out dollars so it can leverage federal funds, Farquhar signaled.

The CVRD then applies for foundation cash to do trail work spanning bridge building, gravel laying and bush clearing — one length at a time.

“As we gain additional dollars, we can pick away on remaining sections of the trail.

The foundation can be reached at 1-800-465-3636

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