The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Connector Trail System includes over 10 kilometres of trails connecting pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to the university, Cranbrook Hill Greenway, and Forests for the World trail system and park. In the spring of 2009, a preliminary design was developed for a portion of the trail system and a public survey was conducted to confirm the desired trail alignments, standards and facilities.
The City of Prince George was able to further expand this important trail system in the summer of 2009, while also working to restore urban forested areas that had been adversely impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The result of the forestry work is a healthier forest interface with a reduced fire risk. Under this project, the City of Prince George received funding from Northern Development on behalf of the Government of Canada's Community Adjustment Fund, an economic stimulus program focused on creating significant short-term employment and investment in communities. Overall, this project involved the clearing of 8.5 kilometers of new trails associated with the UNBC Connector Trail System project with an additional 2.1 kilometres of new trails developed under this phase of the multi-year initiative.
The development of the UNBC Connector Trail System provides critical linkages for the community of Prince George to access the UNBC as well as the vast natural park and trail areas within the Cranbrook Hill area including Forests for the World, a 140 hectare demonstration forest with 15 kilometres of hiking trails. This project was included in the 2008 Trails Task Force Centennial Project Initiative and the 1998 Prince George City Wide Trail System Master Plan.
The implementation of this trail system has not only enhanced the quality of life and access to natural areas in Prince George, but it has also assisted in the ability to attract new residents and businesses to the community.
"The UNBC Connector Trail project represents a great success story for the community of Prince George. Through this project, eighteen jobs were created in Prince George for unemployed forest workers to conduct forest fire fuel management, forest regeneration and trail works along the UNBC Connector Trail. The project provided the workers with experience and training opportunities outside of their traditional forestry skill set. In return, their work resulted in a healthier forest interface and a reduced fire risk for the surrounding UNBC area."
Laurie-Ann Kosec, Parks and Open Space Planner, City of Prince George
Positive Economic Impacts in Prince George
The construction of the University of Northern British Columbia Connector Trail System created a total of forty person months of employment in 2009 and 2010. Through additional phases of this project that were funded by the Job Opportunities and Job Creation Programs, unemployed forest workers were hired to expand recreational trails and undertaking forest regeneration within Prince George along the 25 kilometre Cranbrook Hill Greenway system as well as the 140 hectare Forests For the World park area.
Overall these projects included the falling of hazard trees, building and installation of log benches, forest fuel management work, invasive plant removal, tree chipping, trail surfacing works, and forest regeneration creating a total of eighteen jobs. The forest workers who were employed under this project received cross-training in civil infrastructure construction work associated with urban trail development. This training will allow them to move forward in their careers with new skills that will help them find employment outside the forestry industry.
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