Rossland’s well-maintained trails are a haven for locals and tourists alike, and this summer, Tourism Rossland is seeking to put down some numbers on the economic benefits of our trails system. With this in mind, since late June, some local trail entrances have been guarded by full-time interviewers looking to survey bikers and hikers alike. “It’s a very brief survey all being done on palm pilot. We would ask as many people as possible to answer the questions,” explained Deanne Steven from Tourism Rossland. Though the project looks to measure the impact of all types of local and tourist trail users, the idea formed around mountain biking. “There are many different [provincial] mountain biking communities that are working together to market mountain biking to the rest of BC and the rest of the world.” While Rossland is already known as the “Mountain Biking Capital of Canada,” the benefits of that title are difficult to measure. “It’s really hard to measure the economic impact of the trails network because nobody comes and buys a ticket every time they go on the trail. It’s really hard for us to measure how many people are going out, how much money they are spending, and what the real value of that [trail] network is.” This is the first time the survey is being done in Rossland, although it’s not the first time the survey has been used. Last year, the survey was conducted on the coast with great results. With financial assistance from Columbia Basin Trust, the Sustainability Commission, and Canada Summer Jobs, Rossland was able to join Golden as the two communities completing the survey this year. Rossland’s easy trail accessibility is proving to be a challenge throughout the study. “Because our trail network literally starts in the backyard of everybody in town, we don’t have one or even just two main entrances for the trails. We probably have 40.” Trial and error has best strategy so far for determining where to place the interviewers. “We’re trying to fine-tune the timing so that we get a lot of riders,” commented Tom Flood, one of the surveyors. According to Steven, once the snow clears from the Seven Summits trail, the interviews will be stationed up there “a lot of the time.” Tom Flood, an interviewer for the project, feels the survey is an important one. “I think it’s important to express the significance that mountain biking is playing in the tourism economy.” While interviewing trail users, Flood has been hearing lots of positive comments. “Everyone is extremely happy with the condition of our trails and they’re envious that we have a full-time trail maintenance crew.” The interviews will continue to collect data until the first week of September. The final numbers will be sent back to Tourism BC for final analysis. “We’re really lucky that tourism BC is doing the methodological part of the survey for us. They have a whole statistics department and so they really know what they’re doing. We’ll be able to put together a solid survey with solid numbers,” explained Steven. The final report should be available in December and will benefit many different groups. “The survey is going to be key for a lot of different reasons. It’s going to help the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society for funding in the future. It’s going to help tourism Rossland and Tourism BC.” The final information will be used by local groups to secure funding, as well as by tourism Rossland to help market specifically to trail users. Steven expressed thanks to those who have already completed the survey. “We really appreciate everyone taking the time. It’s going to be a really great project for all of interested in trails and interested in our trail network.” What is the value of trails to Rossland in your opinion?
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