This past year has been a very successful year for VISTA. Success with securing over $65,000 in funds. Success with trail building of several sections to reach 80% completion of the 770 km long VI Trail. Success with building our brand for marketing purposes. Success with reorganizing our association to focus on the priorities to achieve trail completion. Success with facilitating discussions between Regional Districts and Timber West for public access over their lands. Success with First Nation interaction on the North Island. VISTA’s finances were bolstered with $40,000 from the Province ($20,000 of which was gifted by the Outdoor Club of Victoria) and an additional $25,000 from 2 anonymous donors. This money will build some of the trail this year, as well as help build the brand out, but the near future will require more significant funding. An important initiative was the creation of the Friends of the VI Trail. We’re asking all supporters, volunteers, previous members, and the public to help us raise funds with tax deductible donations starting at just $25. Probably the most significant change this past year was renaming the VI Spine Trail to simply The Vancouver Island Trail, to reflect the fact it will be, and always will be, THE largest trail on the Island, and to address some confusion over the old name. The association’s VISTA name will stay in place for the near future. Our new distinctive logo was adopted and will soon be seen at various trailheads, trail junctions, and in marketing the trail. It was designed and gifted to us by Victoria based graphic artist Ron Cole. VISTA’s website has also had significant updating and we welcome all to Google the Vancouver Island Trail and see where we’re at. We’ve also been active on Facebook and our Blog which many use to describe trail sections and their experiences. All trail sections are now on the site with maps, descriptions, and GPS way finding. We’re also in the process of building a Corporate Sponsor Page where we hope to establish reciprocal links with our corporate friends to piggyback on their marketing efforts, while giving them exposure to our audience. Last year’s large donation from Timber West to complete the Malahat Gap of the Great Trail, and by default, close a gap in the VI Trail, has ushered in a refreshing new dialogue willing to discuss the possibility of allowing our footprints across their private forest lands. To this end we have facilitated the beginning of negotiations between the Comox Valley Regional District and Timber West’s Chief Forester. We hope this can be used as a template for all 7 Regional Districts the trail passes through. Finally we have made much progress in our hopes to attract First Nations participation. Port MacNeill’s 35 km Suquash Trail being built with support of the Kwakiutl First Nation, will incorporate their art, culture, history, religion, and language along their section. We’re planning to build on this initiative and expand to include the entire VI Trail as a First Nations cultural exposition, attracting visitors from across the globe.
– Ken Milbrath, President, VISTA – presented at the Annual General Meeting May 31, 2018