Ammonite Falls will be easier to get to thanks in part to an economic boost from Island Coastal Economic Trust.
In a press release, the trust announced it is providing $103,000 to a project that will improve access for people, such as outdoor enthusiasts, to the attraction located at Benson Creek Falls Regional Park. Currently Ammonite Falls, which can only be accessed “by rope along a slippery, muddy bankside, has excluded visitors with restricted or limited mobility,” the press release said.
Improvements will include the addition of a staircase, viewing platform and a truss bridge extending across Benson Creek.
As part of the project, 40 parking stalls will be added to ease congestion at the parking lot at Jameson Road, along with a new access point, with signage for hikers, at Weigles Road, the press release said. The total project cost, said ICET, is $668,000.
The trust’s economic analysis forecasts year-round benefits from the project, which will further expand on growth opportunities within the region’s hospitality and tourism sectors and expand on its investment potential, according to the press release. The park is expected to attract an additional 10,000 annual visitor-days, including during the normally slow spring and fall shoulder seasons, it said.
“Sites like Ammonite Falls are a major draw for visitors,” said Josie Osborne, the trust’s board chairperson, in the press release. “Improving their access and experience leads to longer stays, return visits and a larger economic impact for the region.”
“In the past two months, it has become increasingly clear how important it is to have access to parks and trails for the health and mental well-being of the public,” said Ian Thorpe, RDN board chairperson, in the release. “This project will not only provide greater access to Benson Creek Falls Regional Park, it will also assist the local construction community and the project will be finished at a key time when the tourism sector will need additional support.”
The RDN has teamed with Tourism Vancouver Island and developed a sustainability plan intended to inform visitors about sustainable practices while in the park, said the press release.