Descanso Bay on Gabriola Island could become a stop on the Salish Sea Marine Trail.

Gabriola tapped for Salish Sea marine trail

NANAIMO – Access points and camping needed for water route.

Regional District of Nanaimo and B.C. Marine Trails Network Association are working on an agreement that could see Descanso Bay Regional Park established as a Salish Sea Marine Trail stop.

The non-profit association approached the district in July seeking assistance with establishing the trail, a water route for paddle craft and small propelled boats that will connect the Trans-Canada Trail from Horseshoe Bay to Victoria, with points in the Nanaimo area included.

The district board approved a motion last Tuesday that will see staff working on a partnership deal with the association, which would also establish the Gabriola park as trail campsite. Additionally, Nelson Road boat launch in Cedar could be a trail access point.

John Kimantas, acting project manager, said it’s a slow process, but is pleased with the regional district’s assistance. The association will be able to work Descanso as a key point of the trail.

“There’s good potential there too because it could become a potential hub for kayaking through the region, because there’s a lot of interesting places there with Malaspina Galleries and a couple of provincial parks there on that peninsula,” said Kimantas.

Wendy Marshall, regional district manager of park services, said input from various parks and open space committees will be sought, followed by district board approval.

“Some of the community parks and open space advisory communities will be looking at a couple of sites in their areas to see whether they want those included,” said Marshall.

While Kimantas is happy with the progress, water access could be a concern.

“If you want to get to the north Gulf Islands from Vancouver Island, the only public boat ramp in the area is … Nelson Road and it’s very congested and inadequate for the amount of traffic that it receives and so it’s concerning when we come forward with a proposal to make more use of an area such as that.

“The idea is really to, as part of this trail, is to take a look at marine access along the entire coast. There’s no sense in building a world-class trail if you can’t get to it,” said Kimantas.

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