A recently completed $50,440 government-funded report on mountain biking in the Thompson Nichola Regional District is leading to significant investment from the Simpcw First Nation into the area’s tourism sector.
The Simpcw McBride to Barriere Corridor Trails and Mountain Bike Recreation & Tourism Initiative received funding from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation’s Community and Employer Partnership fund in 2015 to prepare a report on the barriers and challenges for First Nations communities and to identify the human resources requirements within the mountain bike recreation and tourism industry. The report was funded as a labour market study to look at ways jobs could be created in the area.
The report examines and identifies strategies for the Simpcw Nation to establish itself in a leadership position as caretaker and steward of its territories, and to support the development of mountain bike recreation and tourism in the region.
The 91-page report provides multiple findings and recommendations, including:
- The Simpcw Nation territories and the McBride to Barriere Corridor area represent substantial opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure tourism.
- This region has the potential to become one of the top destinations for mountain biking in the province.
- Mountain bike tourism can generate significant economic benefits, and is a growing and lucrative market.
- A strong demand exists in the area for enhanced capacity and resources to support trail development, construction and maintenance.
- Mountain bike tourism is a direct result of the development of mountain bike recreation at the community level.
One of the report’s key recommendations is the development of a professionally trained trail and maintenance crew that can travel throughout the corridor providing support to local volunteer groups.
The Simpcw Nation is planning to put that advice into action by investing in the creation of the British Columbia's first-ever trail maintenance company owned and operated by Aboriginals, a company that will travel throughout the region to enhance tourism opportunities in order to provide an economic benefit to the local communities.
The report is now public, as well as a video produced during a trail-building workshop run while the report was being administered.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“It’s great to see the recommendations from a labour market study put into action. The Simpcw First Nation is taking information found through government funding to invest in the economic health of not only their own community, but the tourism industry of the entire McBride to Barriere Corridor region. I’m looking forward to seeing what this new crew does for mountain biking tourism in our province.”
Terry Lake, Minister of Health and MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson –
“The North Thompson area is ripe for eco-tourism and this investment in the sector is only going to bring more people to the area, growing our economy and creating jobs in the hospitality and retail sector. The Simpcw First Nation is taking it upon themselves to improve the lives of their members and the people of the North Thompson as they develop and maintain our trails.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour –
“Aboriginal tourism is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the province. This project is a great way to capitalize on that trend and have the Simpcw Nation be a job creator in the McBride to Barriere corridor. I expect mountain bikers from throughout B.C. will be drawn to the area and help grow our local economy.”
Martin Littlejohn, executive director, Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association –
“This project represents a great opportunity for collaboration between the Simpcw Nation and the non-Aboriginal communities within Simpcw traditional territory. The mutual respect and willingness to work together among the various groups that have taken part in this project demonstrates the potential for this to become a model for the rest of the province. It’s great to see the passion that Tom and the other band members have for trail building and what it has meant to their community in terms of getting more people participating in healthy active lifestyles.”
Tom Eustache, Simpcw First Nation councillor –
“This initiative has been a great opportunity for the Simpcw Nation to build capacity among our members and youth and to learn about trails and mountain bike recreation and tourism. Our members and youth have learned advanced skills in trail building and maintenance and we look forward to working with all of the communities of the North Thompson Valley to support sustainable trails and community development. Most importantly, the trails we build will support our youth and members to get outdoors and reconnect with our territories and live healthy active lives. ”
- Activity and adventure tourism, including mountain biking, is one of the fastest-growing segments of niche/special interest tourism.
- In Canada, eco-adventure trips are generally categorized as the most popular type of travel behaviour after visiting friends and relatives, noting growth of 15% per year (Canadian Tourism Commission 2008).
- Recent studies from throughout B.C. highlight participation rates of riders. From October 2008 to September 2009, 21% of British Columbians participated in trail mountain biking (Tourism BC).
- In 2016-17, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of BC.
- $25.5 million has been invested in Community Employer Partnerships since April 2012.
- The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia as well as the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
- Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the four components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
- Job Creation Partnerships
- Labour Market Partnerships
- Project-Based Labour Market Training
- Research and Innovation
- Who is eligible for Community and Employer Partnerships funding?
- Non-profit organizations
- Crown corporations
- Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
- Bands/tribal councils
- Public health and educational institutions
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/social-development-and-social-innovation
Western Mountain Bike Tourism Association: http://www.mbta.ca/
Simpcw First Nation: http://simpcw.com/