Northern B.C. saw the completion of multiple tourism projects in 2021.

The Northern BC Tourism Association listed a couple of accomplishments, including Accessible washrooms, trail upgrades and new signage, made possible through BC’s Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative Fund.

Early last year, the tourism association and several other key stakeholders, including local and regional governments, First Nations, and non-profits, identified initiatives to enhance the region’s tourism amenities and experiences.

“I am very pleased to see the progress on these accessibility and Indigenous culture focused projects in the Northern region, especially during these very challenging times,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.

“Throughout the pandemic, we heard from tourism organizations that they needed investment to support regional projects. These projects demonstrate how tourism infrastructure not only support projects that showcase more of what the region has to offer, but also strengthen community connection and create jobs in the future.”

The Tumbler Ridge pump track was one of the completed tourism projects last year, and it opened in July for the community.

This looped and bermed paved track is the first of its kind in Northeast BC and supports the ongoing development of world-class mountain biking in Tumbler Ridge, according to the tourism association. It also provides a central gathering place and an essential amenity for the local community.

“This project was three years in the making and has had a tremendous impact on Tumbler Ridge in its short existence. Tumbler Ridge has seen visitors at the track from every community within the North, and many communities from around BC and Alberta,” said Jane Butters, president of the Tumbler Ridge Mountain Bike Association.

“These visitors support the accommodation, tourism, and food industries. The track is a new and exciting hot spot and is constantly busy. The Velosolutions Pump Track has created some very exciting anticipation of biking development in the North and TRMBA is excited, and thankful, to have had Northern BC Tourism as a partner for this project.”

An accessible pit toilet was also installed at Buckinghorse River Provincial Park along the Alaska Highway.

“Amenities such as this are valuable assets for visitors and also important for corridor development work in Northern BC,” said the association in a release.

TRTDI funded initiatives still underway in the region include implementing a comprehensive place-making signage strategy for the North. Multiple small First Nations communities will utilize the cultural and wayfinding signage to tell their stories.

Multiple accessibilities and infrastructure upgrades to trails around the region are also underway.

As part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, the province’s six tourism regions received a total of $13.6 million to create employment opportunities, attract new businesses and increase economic diversification within communities.

The Targeted Regional Tourism Initiative is one of three infrastructure investment programs for tourism as part of StrongerBC, including the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure program, Destination Development and the Tourism Dependent Communities Initiative.

The approved projects must be completed by March 2023.