The Community and Economic Supports (CES) Team is coordinating short-term economic development projects on Haida Gwaii to help get people who are out of work due to COVID-19 back to earning some income.
The team has contracted Shelley Sansome as its diversification and development coordinator to administer a program that connects local businesses and individuals to on-island contract opportunities.
Sansome told the Observer her first objective is to identify trail maintenance and enhancement, as well as recreational site improvement opportunities across the islands. She is currently in the information gathering stage, reaching out to local governments and organizations to learn what trails are in need of maintenance or enhancement, and collecting data.
She said the team is focusing on trail maintenance and enhancement work first because the projects will not only get some locals back to work, but the outcomes will also uplift local users and support tourism in the future.
“It’s really important that people have healthy outlets to improve their physical and mental health,” Sansome said. “The focus right now is to support residential use, but there are always tourism opportunities that can come from use of trails.”
One of the local governments that will soon be providing a list of priority trails to Sansome is the Village of Queen Charlotte.
Mayor Kris Olsen told the Observer the village’s newly-established Trail Strategy Select Committee had its first meeting on Aug. 10, which Sansome attended.
The committee is made up of Olsen and councillor Lisa Pineault as well as five members from the community, including Michelle McDonald, who is an elected member of the Skidegate Band Council with experience working on the Spirit Lake and Dempsey Collinson trails.
Olsen said committee members will be taking accessibility into consideration when creating the list of priority maintenance and enhancement work for CES, and creating their own trails strategy.
“Accessibility is an important part of our strategic plan,” he said. “We want to make sure everybody has an opportunity to go outside and enjoy the beauty of Haida Gwaii.”
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