Simpcw First Nation blazing and maintaining trails

By Jill Sperling
June 5, 2016 - 10:00am

BARRIERE, B.C. — The Simpcw First Nation is developing British Columbia's first-ever First Nations owned and operated mountain biking trail maintenance company. 

In 2015 the Simpcw McBride to Barriere Corridor Trail and Mountain Bike Recreation and Tourism Initiative received more than $50,000 in government funding to conduct a study on mountain biking in the Thompson Nicola Regional District, and how jobs could be created within the mountain bike recreation and tourism industry.

A professional trail maintenance crew was one of the recommendations laid out in the 91-page report. 

Simpcw First Nation councillor Tom Eustache, along with other community members, have been building mountain biking trails for several years, so it seemed only natural to learn how to maintain them. 

"One of the needs that we (saw), and one of the things that happens when you build trails is there's no one to maintain them," Eustache said. 

The maintenance company is expected to create a handful of jobs in the Simpcw community, however, the job creation won't stop there.

"What we wanted to do is go into each community and go and either maintain their trails or build new trails," Eustache said, "but also hire people from their community too, so they ... build up some capacity in their communities to maintain those trails."

In addition to job creation, Eustache said working on the trails will promote healthy lifestyles. 

"It gets people out," Eustache said, "out on the trails working where they would have been looking for work in the past. There's a few of the people that like being outdoors. The people that we've hired they love being outdoors, so they're there, it's a healthy thing for them to be out there every day."

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