A grand opening for the Salish Sea Marine Trail takes place Sept. 16 and 17 in Nanaimo. It will include a flotilla to Newcastle Island. (Submitted photo)

Salish Sea Marine Trail will hold grand opening at the end of this summer

Event planned for Sept. 16 and 17 at Newcastle Island near Nanaimo

B.C. Marine Trails Network Association’s vision of a water trail for kayakers is coming to fruition.

The Salish Sea Marine Trail will be a part of the Trans-Canada Trail, linking Vancouver to Vancouver Island via a 257-kilometre paddling route, which will include areas in Nanaimo and Gabriola Island. John Kimantas, marine trail project manager, said the trail isn’t fully complete, but functionally complete.

The association is “winding down in a lot of aspects,” but at the same time there are things that are still in progress. It will be refining the trail for years to come, Kimantas said.

“There’s things in negotiation and it’s like anything in negotiation, you have to wait for the outcome … there’s a few major things in the works [with B.C. Parks],” said Kimantas. “When that’s said and done, there’s some great possibilities here. One of the things about this that [is] going to be so fantastic is the increase in the recreational potential in the south B.C. coast by creating new recreation sites and campsites hopefully within B.C. Parks…

“The First Nations consultation, the archaeological assessments and such will be fairly complex, but it’s all moving forward though … and we’ll be working on it for years to come.”

A grand opening event is planned for Sept. 16-17 on Newcastle Island and will include a paddling race around Newcastle and Protection Islands and a group flotilla.

Keynote speakers scheduled for the night of Sept. 16 are Richard Beamish, noted scientist and Ric Careless, conservationist. The public is invited to see the speakers, but Kimantas recommends registering due to limited space and in order for organizers to assure ferry service.

For more information, go to www.bcmarinetrails.org.