British Columbia

Paddle corridor planned for Salish Sea

Work is underway on a marine corridor that will connect Vancouver Island and the mainland.

Route will have official access points and camping stops to make coastline more accessible

The Salish Sea Marine Trail will connect kayakers and other boaters with campsites and launches from Victoria to Vancouver.

Work is underway on a water route that will connect Vancouver Island and the mainland.

The Salish Sea Marine Trail will provide official access points to the ocean to make the coastline more accessible.

It will also tie together a network of camping sites that are within a day's paddle from each other.

"We want to enable the continued travel for small boat users along the whole coastline," said Stephanie Meinke, president of the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association.

The 257-kilometre route will go from Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula into the Gulf Islands, north past Nanaimo, through the Winchelsea and Ballenas islands across to Lasqueti and Texada Islands, then down the Sunshine Coast and across Howe Sound to end at Horseshoe Bay.

"It's beautiful, majestic and natural, and it is where we came from. That is so important to preserve," Meinke said.

Access points key

The group plans to work with regional governments and Aboriginal groups to provide access points along the route where people can park and safely launch paddlecraft and small boats.

"Because car-top boats and kayaks are so easy to launch, it's basically any beach will do. Short of that, any sort of boat ramp pre-existing," said project manager John Kimantas.

Preliminary discussions have started with the City of Victoria to use Clover Point as the start of the marine trail, he said.

Formalizing a paddle route in the Salish Sea could help attract more people without a lot of experience, Meinke said.

"It gives them support, and that is the point."

The group hopes to have the route complete by July 1, 2017 to coincide with Canada's 150th birthday and the official opening of the Great Trail, Kimantas said.

So far, the project is being funded by the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association.