The Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) is taking the first step towards developing a hut-to-hut hiking experience on the North Coast Trail.
At the RDMW’s July 17 board of directors meeting, Manager of Economic Development Pat English requested board approval to submit an application to the BC Rural Dividend Fund for funding to research the project.
“I have been working with Tourism Vancouver Island, District of Port Hardy and several other stakeholders to prepare an application to the BC Rural Dividend Program for $51,200 to fund a detailed consultation and business planning exercise for the development of overnight huts on the North Coast Trail,” said English, adding “This will be a major infrastructure project for the experiential tourism sector and I am proposing to contribute $4,000 of unallocated project funds from my budget to the program.”
Area A – Malcolm Island Director Heidi Soltau, asked who would fund the project itself.
“That would be the Phase 2 piece,” explained English, adding “We can’t address funding for the second piece until we get cost figures in, until we understand what the magnitude is, how many huts, where will they be located, what’s their design, how will they be managed – all of those questions will need to be answered first before we can address funding.”
RDMW Chair Andrew Hory then asked what the timeframe for the project would be.
“They are telling us they will not be making decisions for four months so that puts a decision into November so we would not get any request for proposals out for consultant work until the New Year,” said English, adding that he would anticipate having a report in hand by March of next year.
The RDMW board of directors approved the resolution that “the Regional District of Mount Waddington authorizes the submission of an application to the BC Rural Dividend Program for the North Coast Trail Hut to Hut Phase 1 and that the Board supports this project through its duration”
Tourism Vancouver Island presented the idea of hut-to-hut hiking during a February 27 delegation to the RDMW board meeting as it was one component of five opportunities their Hiking Tourism Task Force Committee had identified to improve hiking on the island.
Huts have recently been constructed on the 180 – kilometers Sunshine Coast Trail, making it one of the only trails in Canada where it’s possible to hike hut-to-hut.
North Coast Trail, which first opened in 2008, is a 58km trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park that typically takes four to seven days to hike.