By Mary Jane Kreisel
The GDTA has Charitable Status!
On May 5, the Charities Directorate let us know we are now a registered charity. This means that The Great Divide Trail Association can issue official tax receipts for charitable donations. This is a big step for us and we hope that individuals and corporate donors will take this opportunity to contribute to our organization.
There are many reasons to donate to the GDTA – most of which support the organization’s mandate to maintain, promote and protect the Great Divide Trail.
One of the GDTA’s main purposes is to provide a public amenity by planning, designing, constructing and maintaining the Great Divide Trail. We have many worthwhile programs and projects to fulfill this. Here are some priorities:
- Build 45 km of new trail in the High Rock Section of the GDT north of the Crowsnest Pass in Alberta. We have built 15 km to date, are maintaining 17 km of existing pathways, and have 13 km left to build.
- Construct a large new bridge spanning a treacherous portion of Cairnes Creek along the historic David Thompson Heritage Trail section of the GDT in BC.
- Clear overgrowth along the Maligne Pass Trail section of the GDT in Jasper National Park in collaboration with the Jasper Trails Alliance.
- Provide ongoing trail maintenance of 100 km of the Original Great Divide Trail between Fording River Pass and North Fork Pass in Alberta.
To do this, we need funds for tools and equipment, contractors, camp supplies, insurance, signage, training, and transportation. As trail building and maintenance activity grows and extends to far reaching sections of the GDT, the budget also grows. Last year, we spent over $22,000 on these activities.
Another GDTA purpose is to educate the public about the Great Divide Trail and encourage its use consistent with the scenic and wilderness values of the Canadian Rockies. This is no small task. Here are some of the things we do on an ongoing basis to inform trail users and promote the trail to the general public:
- Provide regular updates on the GDTA website and social media to provide trail users with current trip planning resources.
- Present outreach and education programs including workshops on hiking and safety as well as guest presentations featuring long-distance hikers and wilderness enthusiasts.
- Prepare seasonal newsletters to inform and update about trail topics, events, and volunteer opportunities.
These activities require funds for website costs, marketing, venue rental, merchandise, and presenters. Last year, we spent almost $5,000 on these activities.
One purpose that can’t be over-emphasized is the GDTA’s work in advocating for the formal recognition and protection of the GDT. We believe that the GDT is a significant long-distance trail worthy of preservation for its own sake and for the wilderness experience it provides to its users.
Here are what some hikers have said about their experience on the trail:
This trail was so much more than I could ever have imagined! More wild. More scenic. More difficult. More sacred. MORE WONDERFUL.
I savored the experience of the GDT and count it among one of my better choices made in life.
It is a one of a kind trail unique from others in its remoteness, challenging terrain, weather, and rewarding scenery. It was all worth the challenges and is now my favorite trail. What a journey!
GDTA activities provide benefits to a wide group of people – hikers, equestrians, volunteers, and those attending our various educational functions and events. We serve trail user communities in two provinces and people who come from all over Canada and the world to hike the GDT.
We have set up our Donate webpage in association with CanadaHelps, a charitable organization that works with other charities to provide fundraising tools and assistance in processing donations. Using this service will significantly decrease our administrative workload and provide us with highly professional and secure donation forms and quick turnaround for charitable receipts. The cost for using CanadaHelps is low in consideration of the level of service it provides – averaging less than $.04 for every donated dollar.
Donations to the GDTA are always welcome. This is particularly true in the uncertain times brought on by the COVID-19 situation. Understandably, some of our main funders have had to hold their grant programs in abeyance due to the pandemic. This has resulted in a shortfall of $12,500 in our budget this year.
If you are interested in donating, check out the Donate page on our website at: https://greatdividetrail.com/get-involved/donation/
With the support of our donors, we can preserve the GDT and its wilderness experience for generations to come.