2012 Experience The Gulf Islands

A Pender Island Public Information Meeting
December 15, 2012

Prepared and presented by Edward Andrusiak and moderator Derek Masselink.  Ed was involved with the Experience the Fraser project currently being developed in the Lower Mainland that will link Hope with the Salish Sea by land via trails along both sides of the Fraser and by water on the Fraser River. The Experience the Gulf Islands initiative proposes that the land and water connections be extended across the Southern Gulf Islands (North and South Pender, Mayne, Galiano and  Saturna) from the Lower Mainland then on to Saltspring and Vancouver Island, via a series of hiking/biking trails and marine facilities that look beyond a dependency on ferry and vehicle traffic.

Saturday's meeting was the beginning of a longer conversation and effort that could profoundly impact the way we move around the Penders and the Salish Sea. 

What is “Experience the Gulf Islands”?

ETGI is a unifying theme to enrich the lives of residents and visitors through outdoor recreation and direct contact with the land and waters, communities, people, events and heritage of the Gulf Islands.

Developing and providing the support system for enriched experiences will be a catalyst for community and economic development.

A key building block of ETGI will be the development of a system of major trails and water routes interconnecting communities, events, amenities and supporting businesses throughout the Islands. A major trail across and interconnecting each of the Southern Gulf Islands will be proposed for designation as part of the Trans Canada Trail network.

ETGI is one of six initial priorities adopted by the Southern Gulf Islands Economic Development Commission at its September 18, 2012 meeting on Pender Island as a common “platform” across the SGI for specialized tourism and community development.

Capitalizing on National and Regional Initiatives

  • The Trans Canada Trail is being formalized from Hope to Horseshoe Bay. There is an opportunity to advance it across the Southern Gulf Islands from Vancouver Island via a route from Victoria or Saltspring and linking to Tsawwassen as part of the Trans Canada Trail network.
  • Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Regional Districts have spent $3.5 million actively developing “Experience the Fraser” a concept to develop a recreation, tourism and heritage corridor from Hope to the Salish Sea. We can extend this concept across the Southern Gulf Islands.
  • CRD is actively extending its regional trails and the Trans Canada Trail to connect with other regional trail systems to northern Vancouver Island. This ensures that trail users can get to the Southern Gulf Islands and can continue their travels after leaving the Islands.

Key Elements of ETGI

  1. A pedestrian and cycling trail system (with possible equestrian components) across each Gulf Island interconnecting the Southern Gulf Islands, Saltspring, Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Ideally, a major trail across each Gulf Island will be designated as part of the TCT network.
  2. Water connections between communities and each of the Gulf Islands. This system could/should be independent of BC Ferries and build on the water taxi and other services using CRD-managed docks on each Island.
  3. Clusters or “nodes” of supporting services and amenities such as an interpretive centre, museum, educational opportunities, food and accommodations services, a dock or marina, outdoor recreational equipment rentals and services, tour and guiding services and so on.
  4. Linked thematic opportunities for edu-tourism, agri-tourism, food and beverage tourism, cultural and heritage tourism and other specialized opportunities for residents and visitors.

Benefits and Advantages of ETGI

  • Builds on the strengths and advantages of the Southern Gulf Islands.
  • Will alleviate and eventually remove pedestrian and cycle congestion on narrow Gulf Island roads.
  • Will encourage non-motorized visitation to the Islands because of increased safety and capacity provided by the trails.
  • Infrastructure development and ongoing provision of services will facilitate community development and job creation.
  • Trails and water route infrastructure will provide a framework for properly planned, located and approved recreational, cultural, heritage and service amenities.
  • Development of non-ferry water connections will facilitate community building and visitation between the Islands, rekindling historic relationships and patterns that built the Island communities.
  • Linkages to national and regional brands like the Trans Canada Trail and Experience the Fraser will facilitate user acceptance through brand recognition.
  • Acting jointly with Saltspring within a regional context will make it easier to gain CRD Board acceptance facilitating access to regional, provincial, federal, foundation and private sector funding and investment.

Benefits of the Trans Canada Trail (

  • Health and Well Being – inspiring Canadians of all ages to be active and keep fit
  • Environment – preserving green space, promoting conservation and encouraging active transportation
  • Education – helping to educate and inform individuals of all ages about Canada’s history, culture and biodiversity
  • Economic Development – promoting tourism, contributing to economic growth in large and small communities

Opportunities for the Southern Gulf Islands

  • Become part of a regional trail and water network interconnecting the Southern Gulf Islands, the region and Canada, that will provide recreational benefits to Islanders while creating more options for specialized tourism, ongoing maintenance and education along the trails (e.g., TCT’s BioKits for biodiversity education)
  • Advance trail development and leverage funding by identifying and completing a major route across the SGI that could be designated as part of the TCT network and that will act as a spine for a trails network on each Island
  • Develop themes that have components unique to each island but together can be marketed as a competitive and attractive package to those seeking real experiences on the SGI.

For additional information or to suggest other local groups or individuals who may be interested please contact Derek Masselink or Edward Andrusiak (250) 539 2322