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Active Communities Grant helps Tumbler Ridge improve access to its world-class geological park


Gloria Fox, Regional Physical Activity Lead
Gloria Fox, Regional Physical Activity Lead

Did you know? A second cycle of Active Communities Grants is currently open for applications. The BC Alliance for Healthy Living is administering the grants, with provincial funds being split between all health authorities. It’s very exciting to see the return of these grants; I remember some great projects to improve access and opportunities for physical activity in the North being funded during the first cycle in 2017. 

Past grant recipient: Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark 

Gloria Fox, Regional Physical Activity Lead
Kinuseo Falls, located in Monkman Provincial Park - Tumbler Ridge

One of these projects was developed by the District of Tumbler Ridge in partnership with the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark. According to UNESCO, “UNESCO Global Geoparks … are … areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.” Tumbler Ridge applied for funds to invest in a piece of equipment that would allow the beauty of the Geopark to be enjoyed by more people, regardless of their physical ability. 

If you’ve never been to Tumbler Ridge and are a lover of the outdoors, run, don’t walk, to the Geopark! Featuring unique geological features, plus dinosaur bones and footprints (“trackways”), this place is a gem of an outdoor playground.  

To learn more about the new accessibility equipment, I connected with Manda Maggs, Executive Director of the Geopark. The new acquisition is a TrailRider, a one-wheeled, human-powered wheelchair that helps people with mobility limitations experience the same trails and vistas as their fellow hikers.  

Depending on the terrain, the TrailRider can be operated by two to four fairly strong people in the front and back of the chair. Manda says that while some people are nervous about using the TrailRider, “just having it as an option [expands] the range of visitors that we can welcome every year. Having the TrailRider available demonstrates inclusivity and makes people feel welcome; feedback has been very positive.” 

What does it mean to the Geopark to be able to offer universal accessibility?  

“We know that while our backcountry offerings are the biggest draw, they are also the biggest barriers for some,” says Manda. “Right now, only two out of about 50 sites in our area are accessible for a person with a wheelchair or walking aid to reach, so we're always looking at ways we can do better. The TrailRider is probably the best return on investment to address this challenge in the short term while we look at ways to get more of our trails ready for a wider range of abilities.”  

I’d like to give a big shout out to the District of Tumbler Ridge and its Global Geopark for working to make physical activity available to more people. This is exactly the purpose behind the Active Communities Grants: to make physical activity possible for more people by responding to what local communities need so they can provide accessible, inclusive, and supportive physical activity opportunities.  

Apply for an Active Communities Grant now! 

Do you have an idea for how to increase activity in your community? Local and Indigenous governments and their partners are encouraged to apply now until February 5, 2024 for up to $50,000 for a community-led and -inspired active living project.