The Runners Trailis is credited with bringing community members, political leaders and staff together to collaborate, solve problems and ensure its success.
Building a continuous interconnected trail system linking the Alberni Valley to the rest of Vancouver Island was a key part of the plan to develop the ecotourism potential of the region. Attracting a worldwide audience of outdoors enthusiasts to Vancouver Island’s west coast would help to both offset the economic impact and job losses from the decline of forestry, and to create a sustainable economic environment. The Runners Trail project was developed as a collaborative project involving the City of Port Alberni, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and the Tseshaht First Nation.
The Tseshaht Runners Trail marks a historical route from the old village site at Franklin River into Ditidaht traditional territory. The trail starts at Headquarters Bay, a 30-minute drive from Port Alberni on the way to Bamfield. Stream crossings were installed, campgrounds built, and signage added to mark the trail. Trail construction included a three-year marketing and promotion strategy to raise awareness of the new attraction and draw visitors.
The Runners Trail, completed in 2013, is part of a connected trail route planned to link with the Trans Canada Trail system along the east coast of Vancouver Island and the Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria. Creating an interconnected trails system throughout the Island provides a unique experience, allowing people to access more remote wilderness areas and enjoy the abundant natural environment. The Runners Trail contributes to a culture of outdoor adventure tourism that supports regional businesses by attracting the visitors traveling to the Pacific Rim Park and other regional destinations. The trail’s historical and cultural value also served as a valuable link for First Nations and non-First Nations communities to come together on a project on common interest and mutual economic benefit.