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Parks plan grant includes improvements to regional trails and Cottonwood Lake Regional park

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
August 6th, 2020

The pandemic that plagued the world has provided the impetus to tie the region’s main trails together.

To assist with economic development and recovery following covid-19 the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has delivered a grant for $163,450 to support the Regional District of Central Kootenay Trail Connectivity and Parks Enhancement project.

The project will connect recreational trails at Morning Mountain Recreation Area to Cottonwood Lake and Morning Mountain community hubs via The Great Trail, along with several phased-in improvements for Cottonwood Lake Regional Park.

The Cottonwood hub will be connected to the Mountain Station and Svboda recreational trails via the Nelson-Salmo Great Northern Trail.

“These community hubs will offer a place for a diverse user group to gather and enjoy the outdoors while the more adventurous recreationalist can set out from either community hub location on recreational trail experience,” noted a regional district staff report on the project.

Morning Mountain Recreation Area and Cottonwood Lake Regional Park are two of 24 RDCK managed parks, along with the Nelson-Salmo Great Trail, a connector trail that ties into the Cottonwood Lake Regional Park.

The money will go to community partners — the Nelson Cycling Club, Blewett Conservation Society — to rehabilitate current recreational trail assets, improve connectivity of the existing recreational trail network and develop infrastructure at two community hubs in RDCK regional parks.

Cottonwood Lake community hub accessibility improvements work plan

The plan is to create a Cottonwood Lake community hub fully accessible to all segments of the population.

The final project design is scheduled for completion over the next five years with phase one of the project being applied for under the 2019 Rural Dividends Program funding stream.

Through both phase one and two, the park will see an upgrade to existing infrastructure that will improve park accessibility, including the development of accessible site features like washrooms and a picnic area.

There will also be an upgrade to the existing trail that will create more opportunity for enjoyment by all population segments, including those with mobility constraints.

With the phase two development of fishing platforms and wharfs the overall opportunities for recreation in the park will be enhanced.

The hub will include a new segment of trail that ties into the Great Trail.

— Source: RDCK staff report

Cottonwood Lake Regional Park

Cottonwood Lake Regional Park is located to the south of Nelson along Highway 6 toward Salmo.

The park provides waterfront access to Cottonwood Lake. Current facilities include a swimming beach, picnic tables, non-motorized boat launch, basic pit toilet facility, walking and winter cross-country trails.

In spring 2019 the RDCK board of directors purchased 21.6 hectares of private land around Cottonwood Lake slated for logging by a private landowner.

The $450,000 purchase price was partially funded by a $200,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust.

The purchase was made with the intention to conserve the land for the enjoyment of future generations and to expand Cottonwood Lake Regional Park for enhanced recreational opportunities.

Morning Mountain community hub work plan

The enhancement and addition of infrastructure will include:

  1. benches for skate lacing, resting and visiting next to the ice and adjacent to the fire ring;
  2. signage for users and visitors;
  3. a shed for operational purposes; and
  4. outhouse for public use.

Infrastructure details

The new operations shed will be a 10′ steel cargo container to aid volunteers in building the rink. In fall, maintaining the ice surface in winter, and disassembling of rink in spring. The shed will have an external shell consisting of a metal roof over wooden trusses with wood slats that will match the existing park gazebo.

The shed will also have interior fittings (shelves, hooks, etc.) to ensure functionality of the space for operational use. The shed will be equipped with existing equipment fire hoses for flooding, snow blower for clearing snow from the ice surface, and tools for manual maintenance.

— Source: RDCK staff report

Morning Mountain

Morning Mountain is located in RDCK Area E and in the rural community of Blewett, approximately four kilometres west of Nelson.

The park has a total area of 20.6 hectares and provides access to a broader network of recreational trails located off of Giveout Creek Forest Service Road that borders the regional park.

There are no access fees for use of this park or any of the infrastructure or facilities that located within it.

The park is designated as a multiple purpose regional park and includes recreational trails for cycling, hiking, nature appreciation, as well as snowshoeing and tobogganing in winter. Other uses include a seasonal ice skating rink and gazebo for day use.

The seasonal skating rink was added to Morning Mountain Regional Park two years ago. In addition to skating, families use the area in winter for tobogganing, snowshoeing, touring and sledding.

Cottonwood Lake Regional Park accessibility improvements

Phase one of the project will include the following installations:

New washrooms

  • Remove the existing washroom
  • Install a new accessible washroom
  • Create an accessible trail grade to the shelter

Enhance and upgrade the current trail surface

  • Improve the beach/wharf access trail to make a completely accessible primary trail between launch, beach and wharfs
  • Foreshore restoration
  • Guiding rail, rope or tapping edge
  • Out-slope the trail
  • Crowned trail on the old road surface
  • Manage erosion and drainage work for the existing road
  • Install a resting bench

Develop a new Great Trail connection

  • Minimize grades
  • Contour trail to Giveout Creek Forest Service Road

Phase two of the project will include the following installations:

Install two new fishing platforms

  • Trail tread improvements
  • Bench on/near the platform
  • Bench along the trail on route to the platform

Footbridge improvements

  • Widen the existing footbridge to an appropriate standard
  • Surface the approach to the bridge

New wharf location

  • Move the current wharf to a more central location away from the beach
  • Ramp or fill to create a level approach to the wharf


  • Create accessible/designated parking
  • Improve the parking grade and drainage
  • Undertake slope stabilization
  • Remove barriers and replace with split rail and rock

Picnic area/new access to shelter

  • Accessible picnic tables on slab
  • Create a level and safe area
  • Accessible fire pit
  • Redevelop the current kiosk
  • Install mapping, signage, way-finding and accessibility information
  • Install signage with regulatory/ park rules information

Develop access to a secondary shelter

Nelson Cycling Club

The NCC is considered the manager for many of the region’s trail network as it builds, upgrades and maintains Nelson’s 270 kilometres and 182-trail network for both local and visiting riders “with the goal of promoting and developing off road cycling opportunities and non-motorized trail use in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.”

The NCC is a non-profit organization managed by a volunteer board of directors.

Blewett Conservation Society

Part of the work at the Morning Mountain community hub — located in the existing day use area near the car park — will be undertaken by the Blewett Conservation Society (BCS).

Founded in 1981 as a not-for-profit society, the BCS works on projects and issues to enhance the Blewett community, including: strengthening community relationships, and protecting the environment and domestic water sources.

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