Lakes Economic Development Association Builds An Interpretive Trail Network In Burns Lake
Burns Lake, a rural community located in the heart of BC's northern interior, has a population of 2,200 residents and serves as a supply centre for over 12,000 people throughout the surrounding Lakes District region. In and around Burns Lake, there are six First Nations, each of which with their own distinct, rich histories and traditions. Burns Lake is widely sought out for its year-round outdoor recreation opportunities that support healthy living with activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, walking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and biathlon training.
In 2009, the Lakes Economic Development Association initiated a project with funding support from Northern Development on behalf of the Government of Canada's Community Adjustment Fund. This project capitalized on all of these strengths to provide the community of Burns Lake a new interpretive trail network that enhances local recreational opportunities while also providing environmental and cultural interpretation of the history of the area.
The society constructed a low-impact, non-motorized, naturally respectful trail system on the south side of Burns Lake that consists of 8,000 metres of easy walking trails with interpretive signage throughout that offers educational opportunities and insight into the traditional and cultural activities of local First Nations history. This trail system provides opportunities to demonstrate the cultural and historical connections of early pioneers and ancient First Nations' ways of life while promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging community recreation.
"This project generated much interest and has helped to support the local economy through job creation and new infrastructure. It was intended that the trail system would be accessed year round. We are pleased to see that recreation enthusiasts have made year round use of the new trails. Construction workers received compliments throughout the project on their great work! The project serves as a legacy for Burns Lake."
Cindy Shelford, Economic Development Officer, Lakes Economic Development Association
Positive Economic Impacts in Burns Lake
The development of this new interpretive trail system has supported local businesses throughout its construction as the project was focused on creating economic stimulus under Canada's Economic Action Plan. The project continues to support new recreational opportunities that include hosting recreational events such as marathons, mountain biking competitions, and triathlon events within Burns Lake. New business opportunities that are now either made possible or enhanced by this project include kayak and canoe rentals, the opening of a new bike shop, and the expansion and development of local resorts that can tie into local recreational amenities.
The project directly created over 151 person-months of employment in Burns Lake over the course of the two years the interpretive trail system was development. Positions that were supported included an archaeology assessment, machine operators, labour, and construction.
Workers created recreation sites along the trail network that included single and double campsites as well as a common areas with fire pits. The trail network also included benches, a board walk and a view points overlooking Burns Lake and Johnson Lake. These sites have already had significant use from tourists and are helping to provide another amenity focused on boosting tourism in the Lakes District area.
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