Trail plans controversial

  • Jul. 7, 2010 10:00 a.m.

Building trails on the islands can create short-term jobs and provide recreation opportunities for residents and tourists, but the idea is not without controversy, as community leaders discovered at the June 24 protocol meeting in Queen Charlotte. Travis Glasman, executive director of the Misty Isles Economic Development Society, asked the protocol table its support for the society to come up with a trail strategy for Haida Gwaii that would establish principles for trail development, create trail standards, and prioritize which trails should be developed first. A strategy like this would help the islands land funding to create the trails, he said. But Haida Nation president Guujaaw objected to MIEDS leading the strategy, and also said that the Haida Nation does not necessarily want trails established all over the islands. “Once you get these things opened up, it’s hard to close them, once the pack starts moving through there,” he said. After some discussion, the protocol table agreed to support a trail strategy limited to the geographic area that Guujaaw called the “settlement corridor”. For Queen Charlotte councillor Leslie Johnson, the discussion pointed to some of the limitations of the Misty Isles Economic Development Society, which was established two years ago with $500,000 from the provincial government and a board made up entirely of non-Haida representatives. (The Skidegate Band Council recently appointed one member to the board.) “Unless MIEDS can find a way to work in cooperation with the Council of the Haida Nation, I don’t think we will be as effective as we want to be,” she said. Sandspit representative Evan Putterill, who recently took over as chair of MIEDS, said a trail strategy is very much needed, and could help resolve some of these issues. “That we’re not all on the same page with trails is an indication that we need a trail strategy,” he said.