Cowichan Valley Trail gets upgrades

Repairs had to be made to this culvert and a section of the Cowichan Valley Trail after a sinkhole and washout. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Before and after shots of the culvert repairs. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
A worker installs rebar for the new concrete floor. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
The repaired culvert allows water to flow freely. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Strengthening trestle decking to allow machinery to cross. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Newly resurfaced trail as part of the 70.2 Mile improvement. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Map of the Cowichan Valley Trail where repairs and upgrades were done. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)

People looking to enjoy the outdoors will benefit from significant upgrades made to the Cowichan Valley Trail following a culvert failure that occurred in early 2020.

The issue led to a large sinkhole, 10 metres in diameter and five metres deep, that’s made the trail impassable since then, but the repairs to the culvert at Dry Bend Creek have now been completed.

Upgrades to two trestle bridges (Mile 66 and Mile 64.4) and 11 kilometres of trail surface and drainage repairs are also finished.

With warmer weather here, the trail is now open for visitors to enjoy.

“With funding from our government’s economic recovery plan, we were able to create new jobs and get shovels in the ground quickly to make much needed improvements to this popular hiking trail in Cowichan, including upgrades to the trestle bridges and trail itself,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“I’m happy to see that people will be able to enjoy the trail this spring and summer.”

The project was made possible thanks to funding from StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.

It is one of 45 projects funded with $16.7 million that focused on active transportation safety and access improvements on provincial infrastructure.

“In the Cowichan Valley, we enjoy one of the most spectacular natural environments on the globe,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan.

“These trail and infrastructure improvements make it possible for people to get out and enjoy the natural beauty this area has to offer.”

The washout site was large and required work to redesign the culvert and stabilize the sinkhole area.

The new culvert is stronger and has a concrete floor and reinforced walls.

Precautions to prevent fish from being harmed included installing fish exclusion fencing and work took place outside the spawning window.

The slopes of the washout site have been replanted with 180 plants, all native species.

“Cowichan River Provincial Park is an extremely valuable recreation area with sensitive second growth forest, enjoyed by many locals and tourists alike,” said George Heyman, minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

“We will continue to look at upgrades in the park to ensure more people can safely enjoy its year-round trails, while protecting ecosystems in the area.”

Hydrometric instruments are being installed at the site to regularly monitor water levels.

The collected data will also help inform how precipitation and flooding affect the Cowichan Valley.

Once installed, the data from these instruments will be shared with Cowichan Tribes.

The ministry worked with BC Parks to facilitate the replacement of trail facilities in the eastern portion of the Cowichan River footpath, from the Glenora trailhead to kilometre three.

Most of the facilities along this section of the footpath were installed in the late 1990s.

The upgrades included new bridges, boardwalk and safety railings.

“The trail systems in Cowichan connect people to each other and the outdoors,” said Jill Nessel, executive director of Tourism Cowichan.

“They have an international reputation and draw people from all over the world. Locally, they are perfect for families to wander aimlessly and to get out in nature and spend time together. Our trails are a welcome sanctuary in the time of COVID-19, and is one of the best examples of how to experience Dr. Henry’s ‘few faces, open spaces’ safely, and always with the reward of a new sight to behold or sound to be heard along the way.”

BC Parks is working on implementing a multi-year plan to replace and upgrade much of the existing trail facilities along the Cowichan River footpath’s 20-kilometre length.

These upgrades will help facilitate multi-season use of the trail system, improve safety and protect the sensitive environment.

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