Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the official completion of the 40-km West Coast Multi-Use Path | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the official completion of the 40-km West Coast Multi-Use Path

Ucluelet, BC

It was an all-hands-on-deck effort to finish the 1.2-kilometre missing link between the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Trail (pronounced ups-cheek ta-shee) and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) Multi-Use Path (MUP) that begins at the Junction and connects to Ucluelet’s MUP.

On a sun-soaked June 7 afternoon, representatives from Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government, Toquaht Nation, ACRD, Government of British Columbia, Government of Canada, Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) and the District of Ucluelet gathered on the minted path to officially celebrate its completion.

Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government (YG) President Charles McCarthy welcomed guests to the haḥahuułi of Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Chiefs, and had the honour of cutting the cedar ribbon to commemorate the milestone day.

“This has been a long time coming. It’s been nice to have the continuation and the safety that comes with completion of the multi-use trail into the park. It’s a great opportunity for a lot of our citizens and the locals to enjoy the trail,” said YG President McCarthy.

Toquaht Chief Anne Mack expressed happiness for the team effort it took to complete the missing link.

“We are doing what we should be doing, collaborating and getting what we need for each other,” she said.

The ACRD received several grants that made completion of the section of path possible: $500,000 came from the BC Active Transportation Infrastructure Grant Program (formerly Bike BC), $200,000 from ICET and more than $731,900 from Canada Community Building Funds (formerly Community Works Funding) allocated by the ACRD Board.

Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, re-iterated the theme of the day.

“I think today is an incredible symbol for connection between our communities,” said Osborne. “This dream to have a safe, multi-use path between Tofino and Ucluelet that connects all points in between, making it better for people to get to work or to school or just to have fun, is fantastic. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for partnership.”

The West Coast MUP has been almost a decade in the making — Parks Canada first announced the project in the 2016 federal budget.

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns said June 7 is a “historic moment”.

“We’re finally connected in a really good way. I’m just honoured to be here and privileged to be part of this moment. It takes all hands; we are all part of a continuum and everybody here has played an important part. We don’t say enough about the staff who do all the hard work on the ground,” said Johns.

Kel Roberts, retired Electoral Area “C” (Long Beach) director, called the new paved trail the “gem of the Pacific”.

“The word is being spread and it’s going to increase tourism,” said Roberts.

CEO of ICET Brodie Guy agreed.

“Think of the memories that are going to be created here… All the good things that are going to flow from it. Think economic development. This is huge for this area,” he said.

Amphibian Crossings

Three amphibian crossings were installed under the MUP to align with the existing highway crossings and to help prevent roadkill incidents. The Swan Lake Wetland is located about 500-metres from the highway and is the essential breeding habitat of many species, including the Northern Red-legged Frog.

“I really would like to thank everybody involved in this piece of the trail particularly, for the extra funding to allow bypasses for the frogs,” said Vaida Siga, director for Electoral Area “C” (Long Beach).  “The extra value that this trail has is it connects the pieces of the area that need [to be] connected for other species. We’ve done a wonderful job of connecting our species so let’s work towards connecting other species.”

Conservation Biologist Dr. Barb Beasley told the Ha-Shilth-Sa that hundreds of frogs and salamanders use the underpasses.

“Frogs are a key in the food webs. Tadpoles help maintain water quality by grazing on algae and they are also prey for other organisms,” Dr. Beasley shared. “Frogs are control agents for recycling the soil nutrients. They bring the nutrients back and forth from terrestrial to the aquatic environment.”

The amphibian crossings are similar to culverts, notes the ACRD, and about 100-metres of amphibian fencing was also installed to help safely direct the frogs towards the crossings.

Marathon between Tofino and Ucluelet

The West Coast MUP is about 40-kilometres and links Tofino, Ucluelet and the First Nations territories of Tla-o-qui-aht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ. Ucluelet Mayor Marilyn McEwen offered a warm congrats to everyone for all the hard work, and went to announce that the Edge to Edge plans on bringing the full marathon back to the schedule for 2025.

ACRD Chief Administrative Officer Daniel Sailland was thrilled about the news.

“I’m gonna run it,” he grinned as the group walked the path together towards Ukee Poke for refreshments.

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