Inaugural Vancouver Island Trail Network Conference set for May 31 with the accomplished Phil Stone as keynote

VICTORIA, March 13, 2014 /CNW/ - The Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA) opened registration today for its first annual conference, an event focused on bringing together stakeholders, trail users and interested parties to build momentum towards the completion of a 700km tip-to-tip wilderness trail from Victoria to Cape Scott. The event will be held near the Island's wilderness heart in Courtenay on May 31 and June 1 of this year. Island adventurer and backcountry guidebook author, Phil Stone, will be the keynote speaker for the inaugural event.

"This conference is about building the excitement and capacity needed to complete a marquee outdoor feature for the enjoyment and benefit of our Vancouver Island communities and visitors alike. As one of our Island's best known contemporary explorers and guides, we're very pleased to welcome Mr. Stone to share his stories and enthusiasm and to set the tone for our inaugural conference," said VISTA President Andrew Pape-Salmon. "Phil has over twenty five years of experience climbing, hiking, kayaking, and sailing to the most remote places on Vancouver Island. He knows it like few others and will have some great experiences to share with our fellow trail users, builders and proponents at the conference."

The two day gathering, to be held at the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort, is designed to bring together trail users, outdoor clubs, tourism groups, regional and provincial government officials, First Nations, and landowners to help shape and implement the next phases of the Island-spanning trail.

Day one of the conference will feature a variety of speakers and panels focused on coordinating and expanding the Island's existing networks of trails, best practices for new trail construction, and maximizing economic opportunities from trail-based developments and tourism. Day two will feature guided hiking, mountain biking, and trail running events on existing portions of the VI Spine trail.

"This is an ambitious project with a tight timeline but we know there is more than enough passion and determination on Vancouver Island to make the full Spine trail a reality," said Pape-Salmon. "Our plan is to have a route constructed by 2017 by bringing together visionaries and builders from across the Island with events like this conference. Working together, we'll create a shared outdoor legacy to be enjoyed by generations to come."

Early bird registration ends March 31. Members of the public can learn more and register for the conference at http://vispine.ca/

VISTA formed in 2008 as a membership driven charitable organization with a mandate to coordinate action and support construction of a 700 km wilderness trail traversing the Island's "spine", from tip-to-top, Victoria to Cape Scott. The trail, now one third complete, has a target completion date of 2017, to align with the completion of the TransCanada Trail, which shares the VI Spine route along sections of the South Island.

http://www.vispine.ca * @VISpineTrail * FB: Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA)

SOURCE The Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association

For further information:

CONTACTS: Andrew Pape Salmon, VISTA President, 250.888.9216
Rachel Forbes, Conference Coordinator 604.345.9129 vitrailsconf@gmail.com