Fundraiser launched for fountains along regional trails
Despite being lined by thick forest and brush, and occasionally farm fields, Greater Victoria's two regional trails are a bit barren when it comes to water.
In past years, volunteer marathon coach Tom MacDonald had water jugs dropped off by car for 70 or so people struggling through epic 30-plus kilometre training runs. It would be easier, he thought, if there were a few drinking fountains along the way.
Within the next few years he may get his wish. Capital Regional District parks, stewards of the Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails, agreed to install a series of fountains – if MacDonald raises the money.
Last week he launched “A Drop in the Bucket,” a fundraising campaign with the modest goal of raising $54,000 to cover the cost of installation and maintenance of nine drinking fountains – three per year for the next three years.
“The trail system is fantastic. Two million people use it each year for running or biking or walking,” said MacDonald, who works as the executive director of the Local Government Management Association. “People loves the trail system. We just want to work to enhance it.”
So far, so good. Even with relatively little publicity, he's raised $8,400, the majority of that from one family who sponsored the cost of an entire fountain. People who donate $1,000 or more will earn a commemorative plaque.
A former municipal staffer for Oak Bay, MacDonald knew pitching an idea to the Capital Region with no money likely wouldn’t work. CRD parks was enthusiastic about the project, but it wasn’t going to vault to the top of the priority list.
“We agreed on a budget that I would fundraise. There won’t be a shovel in the ground until I deliver the cheque,” MacDonald said. “And it’s not like were asking for millions. It’s $54,000 over all, nine fountains at $6,000 each.”
That relatively low cost inspired the “A Drop in the Bucket” campaign name – due to the link with water and that it won’t hit taxpayers. “There is almost no cost (to taxpayers),” he said. “There will be some (CRD) staff time, but it’s a drop in the bucket for taxpayers.”
CRD parks is still working on potential water fountain locations on the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails, but it wants them to mesh with future rest stations, similar to one built at Atkins Road. TD Bank has sponsored a series of rest stops.
Lorraine Brewster, manager for visitor services at CRD parks, said they plan to spread the fountains along the trail as best as possible, but there needs to be an existing waterline nearby.
“We really support this initiative,” Brewster said. “This will really enhance the trail system for runners, walkers and bikers.”
MacDonald said the fountains will be designed so people can easily fill water bottles and have a ground-level water dish for pets.
“Everybody I talk to says this is a great idea,” he said. “People love the trail system and support from folks is gratifying. Anyone who loves the trail system, runners, dog walkers, can help make this project work.”
See www.adropinthebucket.ca for more information or to donate.