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Society seeking team of volunteers for Rails to Trails

The North Star Rails to Trails Society will hold its first annual general meeting (AGM) on April 23, and director Al Skucas is encouraging users of the trail to get involved.

Opened in 2010, the North Star Rails to Trails is a paved 26-kilometre path between Cranbrook and Kimberley on what used to be railway tracks.

Canadian Pacific Railway donated the land to the cities the path runs between. The project is the result of a collaborative effort between the two cities, Canadian Pacific Railway, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.

The North Star Rails to Trails Society was formed in March 2013 after the trail was designated part of the Trans Canada Trail. The society is made up of members of the advisory committees that helped Cranbrook and Kimberley build the trail.

"Right now, it's a fairly small group — a core group of people who were involved in the transition and became directors of the society," said Skucas.

"Now we're recognizing that there is a lot to do. We have a high-quality trail and infrastructure, so there has to be an invite out into the community to get more involved and help us work with the operation and promotion of the trail. There are lots of things people can do."

The trail needs a website, and the society would like to put together a brochure for the trail. There also minor maintenance jobs that will need to be done each year.

The cities of Cranbrook and Kimberley are responsible for capital infrastructure for the trail.

Already, lovers of the popular trail are pitching in to maintain it, Skucas said, with volunteers recently taking a broom to parts of the trail in Wycliffe affected by sloughing over the winter.

"That's really positive — that we get people going out there who we haven't even recruited to do those things. But it would be nice to have them more integrated within our society so we can respond more quickly."

A counter on the trail showed that it was used at least 35,000 times last summer, Skucas said.

"We expect that to rise significantly as we initiate more formal advertizing with a website and brochures and through a variety of mediums.

"We know this is an unqualified success in the community, for not only tourism and economic benefits but also the social and health side of things.

"We're at the point where we are inviting the public to help us and fill certain roles within the society."

The North Star Rails to Trails Society AGM will be held on Wednesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall in Kimberley.

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