Barbara and Ron Gibson participate in the flotilla from Maffeo Sutton Park to Newcastle Island on Saturday for grand opening ceremonies of the Salish Sea Marine Trail. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Salish Sea Marine Trail creates connections for paddlers

Paddlers gathered Saturday in Nanaimo for grand opening ceremonies

The Salish Sea Marine Trail is officially open.

Paddlers gathered Saturday for a flotilla from Maffeo Sutton Park to Newcastle Island for grand opening ceremonies.

“It’s a milestone for us. It’s been a fairly big project,” said Paul Grey, president of the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association.

The Salish Sea Marine Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail and links Vancouver to Victoria. The route starts at Jericho Beach and goes north through Howe Sound, crosses to Texada, Jedediah and Lasqueti islands, up to the Winchelseas and south through the Gulf Islands.

The B.C. Marine Trails Network has identified and mapped land access points for paddlers and is continuing to develop campsites, make dock improvements and install signs, working in partnership with First Nations and local governments along the route.

Grey said the marine trail has potential to impact tourism as it will make some of the West Coast’s canoeing and kayaking opportunities more accessible.

“It’s one of the best paddling areas in the world, so we’re just using it a bit more,” he said. “There’s so much beauty … There’s a lot to see. A lot of wildlife, a lot of scenery, protected conditions, largely because we’re inside the islands as opposed to rougher weather outside the islands. There’s many, many benefits to the area.”

For more information, visit www.bcmarinetrails.org.

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