A marine trails project was up for discussion at the Strathcona Regional District on June 20. File photo

Quadra Island raises concerns with marine trail network

Area C Director Abram wants to see sustainability plan for islands first

A proposed marine trail connecting points around Vancouver Island could mean more visitors to places like Quadra Island. That’s the concern of Area C Director Jim Abram.

He was responding to a presentation by John Kimantas, the project manager with the BC Marine Trails Network Association, who appeared before the Strathcona Regional District at the board meeting on Wednesday. Kimantas has been making presentations to several communities in the area.

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The trail network’s aim is for a network for kayakers and other small crafts to travel around waterways between Powell River, Campbell River, Sayward and areas in between, such as Quadra and the Discovery Islands.

Abram said he and Quadra residents could not get behind writing a letter of support.

“We are full because right now we’re experiencing total overload for tourism. We don’t have the infrastructure,” he said.

Abram said there is currently a $70,000 sustainability study for Quadra and the other islands to look at some of the same issues as Kimantas discussed. He wants to see the results from this planning process before providing any support for the trails project, adding, “Until that study is done, would you be willing to leave us alone?”

Kimantas said Abram’s concerns had been “duly noted,” but he did not see a conflict with the two processes happening simultaneously.

“It doesn’t sound like they’re competing with one another,” he said.

Over-capacity, he said, is an issue at many locations throughout the coastal area and, in some locations, is significantly worse. Their strategy is to look at overall long-term management in the region, including moving water traffic away from over-used areas by making alternate areas the trail heads for the network. At the same time, another problem is that some sites do not get enough use to cover maintenance, even though they are not far away from busy areas.

Kimantas cited Rebecca Spit as a potential example of how to manage space in areas with high tourist traffic, specifically in how it provides camping areas at the nearby We Wai Kai campground and not at the spit directly.