President’s Report 2023
I was pleased to be part of the advocacy work the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) of BC was doing. I attended, along with ORC, several meetings with provincial Ministers and Ministries advocating for more funds for trails and outdoor recreation. It is great to see some of our primary requests directly reflected in the 2023 BC Budget released in February, for example:
- Support for routine and critical repair and maintenance of outdoor recreation facilities, including trails.
- More staff, including rangers and recreation crews, for BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC.
- Improve inclusion and accessibility in BC Parks.
- $49 million in additional funding to maintain and upgrade forest service roads.
- The single largest investment in building active transportation networks.
- $100 million for the Watershed Security Fund.
I continue to advocate on behalf of VITA to like-minded organizations. I had a very productive Zoom meeting with the CEO of the Bruce Trail, Michael McDonald and Jackie Rendall, Executive Director. They were very complimentary about what VITA has achieved and gave us a supportive comment for our updated website. Michael encouraged me to continue to Think Big and Dream Big.
Last week, I had good Zoom meeting with Mathieu Roy, VP, Chief Trail Experience Officer from the Trans Canada Trail and I will meet with him again when he’s in Victoria this April.
I attended many Open Houses in support of The Te’mexw Treaty Association Overview, all part of VITA’s outreach to our Indigenous neighbours. I asked both the Songhees and the Sooke Nations for the opportunity to present the concept of VITA to their Chief and Council. By collaborating with our Indigenous neighbours we may be able to identify mutually beneficial opportunities for economic development, such as tourism employment and trail promotion among other things.
On March 28, I am meeting with Paul Grey, President of the BC Marine Trails Association to explore ways in which we can work together.
As I continue to do my outreach I’m quickly learning that most of these organizations have undertaken successful Fundraising Campaigns. As we transition from building the trail to maintaining and promoting it you can expect to see VITA’s communications and strategic planning go into high gear. The VITA Board will consider planning a major capital campaign to raise awareness and most importantly raise funds to ensure that our Trail succeeds. I’m hoping to launch such a campaign in the Spring of 2024.
This year VITA applied for grants from the Federal ($100,000) and Provincial ($70,000) governments. At the time of writing this report I have not heard whether we can expect government funding.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are important to VITA and the Board recently had a presentation from Ardath Paxton Mann on the topic. I reached out to Judith Kasiama to explore ways in which her organization “Colour the Trails” and VITA might work together. I attach Judith’s recent interview with the CBC. Have a read and you’ll see what an amazing woman she is.
Approximately 22 people have hiked the VI Trail. Here’s Carly’s story. https://thetrek.co/vancouver-island-trail-recap-and-tips/
Keep up the great work everyone. Whether you’re a donor, a trail worker bee, a volunteer, a supporter, a board member know that you are part of a small team doing mighty work. For that I thank you.