DOVE HILL TRAIL CONSTRUCTION HISTORYThe original Dove Hill Trail and Park were envisioned by Colin Pryce who obtained support from the Castlegar and District Multicultural Society and the Doukhobor Historical Society, and a Licence of Occupation was taken out for the project in 1986. Due to objections from some members of the public, Colin's concept for an outline of a dove on the southwestern face of the hill was not pursued, but a gently-graded trail was constructed to the top of the hill where two viewpoints were established. Ivar Reinsbakken fabricated several benches which were spaced out along the scenic trail. Requirements for a costly legal survey precluded the site from becoming an officially-recognized park; however, to most users, it is a park nevertheless. In 1996, the Licence of Occupation was up for renewal. The previous Licence holders were reluctant to maintain their obligations to the project, and the Licence was transferred to the Friends of Parks and Trails Society early in 1998. Colin, who was the founder of the Friends of Parks and Trails Society passed away in the spring of the same year and a memorial fund was established in his name to allow for future maintenance of Dove Hill. In October a finely-crafted Colin Pryce memorial bench was installed at the western viewpoint by Doug Johnstone and a group of volunteers. A second memorial bench was installed at this location in the spring of 2000 in memory of Shirley Fodor.
In 1998 the local radio station (CKQR) attempted to get a Licence of Occupation for the top of Dove Hill in order to relocate the transmitter towers to this location from the previous location on the Golf Course terrace. On behalf of the FPT Society I wrote a letter of objection to the proposal and subsequent negotiations with the proponent led to the abandonment of the original proposal and the adoption of a location beside the existing CBC/BCTV transmitters on the west flank of Dove Hill. Aside from the visual intrusion by the tower at the higher location, the project as originally proposed would have seen the construction of a service road and a powerline to the top of Dove Hill.
In 2002 I started negotiations on behalf of the FPT Society with the management team for the Brilliant Expansion Project, with the intention of obtaining a compensation settlement for the project's negative impacts on Skattebo Reach Trail. Protracted negotiations, combined with documentary evidence that the impacts would be significant, led to a contract for three years' worth of improvement work on trails in the vicinity of the project. I developed the first specific proposal under this funding: the extension of the existing Dove Hill Trail beyond the viewpoints, over Survey Peak, and down the northeastern slopes of Dove Hill to connect with the upper end of the closed segment of Skattebo Reach Trail (the proposed work was known as Phase One). This would provide a parallel trail to the closed trail through the Brilliant Canyon, albeit at a much higher elevation.
Late in the season I undertook to GPS and map the proposed route, with assistance from the Ministry of Forests. During this work, I stumbled on a well-used game trail which I followed and decided to adapt for human traffic; this became known as the Elk Cutoff Trail and provided the basis for a scenic loop around the upper portion of Dove Hill. It was surveyed as well, and the data was used in support of an application for the amendment of our Licence of Occupation to include the new work. A last-minute snag developed when I was forced to undertake an archaeological assessment for the route just two weeks before the commencement of construction. Senior management of the Brilliant Expansion Project Corporation arranged for this to be carried out in a timely fashion, and we were cleared to proceed with the new work. As has been the case with so many of my other trail projects, Selkirk College participated as the work provided practical trail-building experience to the RFW students.
As the work on Dove Hill was only one component of my operations for the year 2003, I hired a larger crew : Kyle Levy, Justin Dexter, Steven Grant, David Walden and Adam Leavitt (the last two were part-time workers). The new trail routes were cleared of trees and vegetation and the trail bed was constructed. In conjunction with the new work, the entire old Dove Hill Trail, which had become badly overgrown by vegetation over the years, was cleared and selectively reworked. Efforts were taken to close off the shortcuts which had developed as hikers and cyclists attempted to return downhill directly rather than follow the numerous switchbacks. We also developed two new viewpoint sites: one on each one of the new trails. These locations had vegetation selectively removed so that a vista window was provided. I prefabricated two steel bench frames at home and these, along with premix concrete and water were flown to the viewpoint locations by helicopter. Concrete footings were poured and the benches were assembled, to be quickly tested by an inquisitive bear. They held up well.
In conjunction with this operation, I worked with the contractor (Skanska-Chant) to develop a public parking lot at the Brilliant Substation, and the road leading to it was improved. We also installed a new sealed-pit toilet at the site. As finishing work, the new trails were measured accurately with a hip chain and permanent markers were installed every 500 meters. New trail-head signs were also produced and set in place. Because the last few summers have been so arid it has been impossible to develop a proper trail bed in one season as the soil is too dry to reconsolidate after disturbance and tends to transfer downhill. For this reason, the Phase One funding included a payment for subsequent re-grubbing of the new trails once the disturbed ground has stabilized and when the conditions are suitable.
Skanska-Chant has made a commitment to improve the service road to the transmitter site on Dove Hill and to construct a small parking lot at this location. This would allow the less-fit to drive to a higher location for an easier access to the summit of Dove Hill and the new trails by using the Elk Cutoff Trail-head as a starting point. At time of writing (spring 2005) this still remains to be done.
Chronology & Acknowledgments
1986 Licence of Occupation is secured and the trail is constructed by the Castlegar and District Mulicultural Society and the Doukhobor Historical Society with technical assistance by Selkirk College, under the guidance of Colin Pryce. Dove Hill is to be a natural monument to universal peace.
1996 Licence is up for renewal. Colin Pryce, with his health failing, makes arrangements for the Licence to be transferred to the Friends of Parks and Trails Society, which he had organized a year earlier.
1998 FPT Society accepts Licence for a ten year period. Negotiations with local radio station operator lead to the abandonment of the proposal to construct the new radio transmitter on the top of Dove Hill and of the road leading to it.
Volunteers: Doug Johnstone, Rhys Andrews, Dave Fodor, Rick Ogloff, Darcy MacKinnon
2003 As Phase One of the compensation agreement, Dove Hill trail is extended to the new parking lot at the Brilliant Substation and a short new trail (Elk Cutoff) is constructed. A toilet is installed at the parking area.
Paid crew: Kyle Levy, Justin Dexter, Steven Grant, David Walden, Adam Leavitt
Volunteers: Gordon Gibson/Tim Thurston and Selkirk College RFW students.
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