This is a complex and multifaceted project incorporating the needs and interests of various stakeholders, particularly due to the overlapping traditional territory of First Nations, the high commercial forestry use and even the high level of commercial ecotourism in the region.
In 2017, the BC Marine Trails Network Association (BCMTNA) completed the Salish Sea Marine Trail, a 294 km route that facilitates travel by paddle craft between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The BCMTNA is now looking at developing the Discovery Islands Marine Trail, a regional section of the coastal-wide BC Marine Trail between Powell River, Campbell River and Sayward that will also accommodate a selection of side and alternative routes throughout the southernmost region of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Following on the success of the Salish Sea Marine trail, this project undertook the necessary consultations to form a preliminary plan for the Discover Islands Marine Trail. Numerous local governments, Indigenous communities, regional and provincial governments were consulted to gauge stakeholder willingness to participate in the intiative, provide public input and, where possible, reach formal agreements. This involved exploring economic opportunities stemming from the project – including transportation, accommodation, landing site maintenance and management, ecotourism and other cultural tourism opportunities.
The resulting plan provided an initial framework and the necessary stakeholder buy-in required to proceed with subsequent phases of the trail, including the need for a Marine Trail Safety Mandate and a comprehensive environmental strategy. The Marine Trail, once completed, will add considerably to the region’s tourism infrastructure through a network of secured, formal campsites and rest areas that will provide new opportunities for self-directed tours, ecotourism and other economic opportunities for remote and Indigenous communities. The project was completed April 2019.