Three projects under the Experience the Fraser trails expansion were based in Chilliwack.
The $320,000 in provincial funding allowed a team of five workers to gain critical work experience for the past six months.
“The ultimate goal was for those who joined the project to gain valuable and marketable new skills,” said David Urban, a planner with FVRD.
“Ideally as a result, they would find employment and move on.”
Workers who signed onto the Job Creation Partnership were looking to make a career change. Under the aegis of the Community and Employer Partnership they spruced up Chilliwack trails and amenities at Island 22, Hillkeep Park on Chilliwack Mountain, and along the dike near the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge.
“They also gained experience in their fields of interest,” said Urban.
To have three major projects completed locally is also a boon for the entire community, Urban added.
The participants learned how to use power tools and gas-powered equipment safely, and worked alongside contractors, who acted as teachers and mentors.
They earned chainsaw certification through BCIT and first aid training.
“They got hands-on experience on the ground at the various project sites,” added Urban.
The team was busy redesigning and rebuilding the off-leash dog park at Island 22 Regional Park, adding new fencing and a new enclosure specifically for small dogs, to avoid conflicts.
Just beside the dog park, a cleared out day-use area along the river was also established, with new picnic tables and garbage cans.
They also built the new gatehouse at Island 22 in Chilliwack, which was one of the first projects the team completed riverside.
“I’m proud of the work done on the Experience the Fraser trail system,” said Chilliwack MLA John Martin.
“The new amenities and improvements at Island 22 and Hillkeep Regional Parks will give outdoor enthusiasts benefits for years to come.”
Eight kilometres of the dyke — from Jesperson Road to the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge — were resurfaced. Gates were installed to give walkers, cyclists and horseback riders a smoother experience on the Experience the Fraser trail.
Workers in Hillkeep Regional Park built a new trail to the newly-built viewing platform to give hikers a spectacular view of the valley.
In Popkum, 79 new cedar stairs were built on a steep section of the Popkum Community Trail to improve walkers’ experiences over the mountain to the viewing platform overlooking Cheam Lake Wetlands.
The workers now have experience in landscaping, carpentry, painting and chainsaw use. They also worked with the lead trail builders in Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association.
To date, more than 900 job seekers benefited from the work experience and 195 projects were funded across B.C.
“I want to congratulate the workers, and the project partners, on the fine job they did by improving the Experience the Fraser experience,” said Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness.
“Visitors, locals and all outdoor enthusiasts will benefit from this wonderful outdoor experience that people of all ages can enjoy.”
A local contractor, GM James Siebert of Ecoworks Landscape Services Inc. is also happy with what they accomplished.
“As the project holder, I am thankful to have been a part of this Job Creation Partnership program. It provided work experience and new opportunities to our participants as they took part in building these breath-taking projects throughout the Fraser Valley Regional District.”