Trail-building program a remarkable success

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to local media on Friday, September 9, 2016
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Creating a strong, diverse economy that creates jobs in our communities and helps to prepare our youth for those jobs are priorities of our government.

That’s why I was so pleased this week to announce a contribution of $180,000 over three years to expand the inspiring and award-winning SingleTrack to Success program to other Yukon communities. If you’ve never heard of SingleTrack to Success, or S2S as it’s known, then you are missing out on a remarkable program that every Yukoner can be proud of.

In 2006, a small crew of Carcross/Tagish First Nation teenagers was recruited to spend the summer building trails on Montana Mountain. The work was physically demanding – removing tree roots, building berms, constructing bridges – and the hours long, but they kept coming to work.

The vision was to create a world-class trail network that would attract visitors to Carcross while promoting community wellness, providing meaningful employment and reconnecting youth with the land. For many Carcross/Tagish First Nation members, it was a return to their trail-based traditions.

Ten years later, 65 kilometers of trails have been created or restored on Montana Mountain – and mountain biking enthusiasts the world-over have taken note. Dubbed “mountain biking’s new Mecca” with “the best mountain bike trail in Canada” by Explore Magazine, recognized for “some of the world’s best [trails]” by Outside magazine and designated an “Epic Trail” by the International Mountain Bike Association, Carcross now attracts an estimated 5000 visits each season from Yukon families and adventure seekers from around the globe. This is an estimated 1500 per cent increase in visits compared to a decade ago.

Project founder Jane Koepke, Minister Mike Nixon, youth from the SingleTrack to Success program and Premier Pasloski at the funding announcement.

Project founder Jane Koepke, Minister Mike Nixon, youth from the SingleTrack to Success program and Premier Pasloski at the funding announcement.

By any measure, S2S is an incredible community development success story, but at its heart is what this program has done for the Carcross/Tagish youth. Through the program, 60 summer jobs have been created, providing meaningful training and employment on the land in the First Nation’s traditional territory.

For program alumni, the technical and transferrable skills learned have helped them along their path, whether they assumed leadership roles within the crew, secured jobs as professional trail builders, or pursued their education, a trade or other careers.

On the mountain, these young men and women are sought out by bikers from around the world wanting to meet the youth behind these incredible trails; their story has been told through national and international media and now by Shift, a locally produced documentary to be featured at the Banff Festival of Mountain Films this fall.

I’m proud to say that the Government of Yukon has provided technical expertise and has been a strong financial supporter of S2S since its inception a decade ago. We have also supported complementary initiatives, such as the development of Carcross Commons.

Our new three-year, $60,000 annual commitment is based on the belief that Singletrack to Success has much to offer to the youth who build and maintain the trails, and to their communities. It is an excellent example of Yukoners collaborating to create positive change.

We are proud to continue this support so that S2S can continue its incredible work in Carcross while partnering with other Yukon First Nations and communities so that their youth can climb, dig, build, ride and benefit from the positive changes the program delivers.

I would like to extend my congratulations to the Singletrack to Success program founder, the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the more than 50 program alumni for the passion and dedication they have demonstrated over the past decade.

The success of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and S2S in leveraging this support to create what is now a world-class trail network – and for putting Carcross on the map as an internationally recognized mountain bike destination – is to be applauded. The program’s impact on the youth participants, and on the community, has been transformative.

Our government is proud to continue supporting this program in Carcross and in other First Nation communities, and I look forward to seeing the benefits it will bring to First Nation youth across the Yukon.