Three Blind Mice will be in better shape thanks to the federal government’s splurge over the country’s 150th birthday.
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas was at the trail network on July 27 to announce $34,750 in funding, which is being matched by the Penticton and Area Cycling Association (PACA).
“This will actually have the money to create the quality of bridges and structures and things to make this place safe and have the signage so people can navigate it,” said Linnette Gratton, an executive member of PACA.
The federal funding comes through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, which is granting $150 million in time for the 150th anniversary of confederation in 2017.
In addition to new signage, the upgrades included nine new bridges (seven are replacements), new kiosks, fencing, trail improvements and an upgrade to the Rusty Muffler parking lot.
Laura Harp, president and land access co-ordinator for PACA, said the work will be completed in time for the country’s anniversary.
“We’ve already begun. We’re actively replacing other bridges,” she said. “Our mandate has always been to enhance the pursuit of recreation and healthy living in the Penticton area.”
“With PACA leading the charge, it makes it much easier when you have a group that can keep the costs down because they’re willing to put their own elbow grease in to make it work,” Albas said. “When you take out wages, and it’s more volunteers that are doing the work, then you can see how that multiplies – it probably almost doubles the investment.”
Gratton said that riders who are new to the trail system will have a much easier time navigating through it and the standard of safety has been taken higher.
“Any rider who wants to come to this area, which is for the intermediate and advanced rider, it’s going to make it a great riding experience.”
An integral part of the experience is the ability to easily navigate, she said, as riders of the trails have had trouble finding their way in the past.
“Without proper maps, proper signage, people get lost. We want them to know where they are and find the trail that they’re looking for. And they’re graded so people can stay on trails that meet their skill level.”
Albas said the trail system is turning into a gem, though it’s a bit of a diamond in the rough at the moment.
“With PACA making the trail safer, it becomes more accessible,” he said. “It may be small investments, but when you add them to volunteer groups, we’ll see big results.”
South Okanagan-West Kootenay Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk was happy about the government’s investment into infrastructure, but feels the Conservative Party’s overall contribution has been weak, saying the Building Canada Fund has been reduced by 90 per cent under their leadership.
“I certainly welcome the money that’s put towards the trail, however the Conservative record has been of letting our infrastructure lag behind. There have been some pre-election announcements made recently, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of infrastructure funding over the years.”
Members of PACA are hopeful upgrades to the track will attract more cycling events. Coming up is the SingleTrack 6 series, which is making two of six stops in the Okanagan: Campbell Mountain on July 30 and 3 Blind Mice on July 31.
“Two-hundred seventy-five mountain bikers are going to come and utilize these roads – can you imagine how big of exposure that is,” Albas said.