The Kettle Valley Express

The Kettle Valley Express travel guide

The Trans Canada Trail rail trail system spans several hundreds of kilometers across Southern British Columbia and provides what many consider to be one of the most vital pieces of trail of the Trans Canada Trail network in Western Canada. As a former railway, the trail is priceless, not just as a recreational corridor, but as a high value tourism commodity. However, due to the length and remoteness of the trail, it has been a challenge to package and market as a “destination trail”… Clive Webber, Trail Coordinator, British Columbia, Trans Canada Trail

Situation Analysis and Challenges:

  1. In 1987, the Coquihalla Highway (#5) was put through as a short cut to Hwy #1 across BC to Alberta and back, saving time and fuel from using the longer routes, north through the Fraser Canyon and south along Crows Nest Highway 3. When this happened, the communities along Hwy 3 also lost traffic and economy.

  2. South Central British Columbia is divided into tourism regions that follow the north south flow of mountains and valleys.

  3. The provincial rail trails and Crows Nest Hwy #3 runs east/west thru 3 north/south tourism regions, creating an east/west travel flow. Tourism regions receive and give out funding for promoting their own regions only, meaning there could be no coordinated approach due to the “cross-regional” nature of the highway and trails themselves.

  4. My home town, Grand Forks in Boundary Country, population 4,500, like most other communities along the route, is too small to produce effective quality promotions to attract visitors as well.  
  • Unless we could connect everyone and get people to turn at Hope to travel Hwy 3, instead of #5 Highway, our promotions would only be talking to the people who live here and never be able to increase economy by bringing in new traffic.
  • The movement towards reducing print media in tourism and increasing digital marketing.

Strategies and Desired Response

With a strong creative background, I got involved in publishing in 1988 and since 2004, I have been working to promote our trails and area, in visitor publications, local maps and in trail group promotions but something more extensive was needed. In 2012, with a little more than $3,000 in the bank, Vicom Design Inc. was created (Visual Communications Technician) to produce the Kettle Valley Express Travel Guide and included rail trail map to solve the problem. I would have to do it knowing I would be going against the rules of traditional funding sources, having to prove my concept by the actual support of tourism stakeholders, public acceptance and effectiveness of the publication.

A 50% advertiser covered space with a modular ad layout and no advertising space in the top half of the page was chosen. A tourism stakeholder advertiser, such as a city, tourism agency or business could have an influence on editorial copy if a minimum half page was purchased. The pull out map would carry the main trail information and the rest of the magazine would be laid out as one would travel from west to east, creating a travel plan to visit and explore the area more.

Print numbers were started at 30% over any previous local publications and in year 2, another 25% increase in numbers was added to the print run. A budget was created for distribution, which covered the United States, British Columbia border also at major airports, ferries, stakeholders and provincial visitor information centers. The second issue sported a fold out cover and had improvements to the pull out map with a 60% increase in stakeholder advertising showing we were on the right track. Issue #3 continued to show our yearly improvements to the map and joined more regional stakeholders. While working on the submitted 2015 issue #4, we were finally approached by our regional/provincial tourism association, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and we were included into their funding and regional marketing efforts for the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. A stakeholder discount was available for our advertisers and in this second year with them, our stakeholder discount has been doubled for the 2017 (#5) issue.

Glenn Mandziuk, BA, MEDes., MCIP President & Chief Executive Officer, Representative of Destination British Columbia
, Thompson Okanagan Tourism
 Tel: +250.860.5999

 “The Kettle Valley Rail Trail including the Columbia Western and the overarching Trans Canada Trail provide an unprecedented tourism opportunity for many of the smaller communities located along these Rail Trail routes. The potential economic benefit from resulting tourism visitations that stakeholders in these areas can anticipate is substantial based on the experience of similar routes worldwide.  While our product continues to evolve, the work that is currently being undertaken along these corridors by government agencies, special interest groups and volunteers is moving the possibilities forward quickly. We are pleased and very fortunate to have a stakeholder partner like the Kettle Valley Express who have been focused on bringing the story of Rail Trail to the forefront in an authentic voice and creating a consumer piece that has been designed with forethought and attention to accuracy and detail.”

Plans are in place for inclusion into Super Natural BC provincial branding for the 2017, 5th issue in time for the 25th Anniversary of the Trans Canada Trail and Canada’s 150th birthday.

Meaghan Racine 

It was a great process working with – the Kettle Valley Express – and we look forward to continuing to develop this relationship in the 2016 / 17 fiscal.

Once myself and Ellen have completed year end (March 31st) and we have a clear understanding of our direction to move forward in for 2017 we look forward to meeting to discuss the Super Natural BC brand and TOTA branding combined for future publications.

Clive Webber 
Trail Coordinator, British Columbia
 Trans Canada Trail/Sentier Transcanadien ~ www.

…… it (Kettle Valley Rail Trail) has been a challenge to package and market as a “destination trail”. Vicom Design Inc. has taken the lead in this respect by connecting trail users with the numerous trail organizations, community Chambers of Commerce, and local businesses. Vicom Design Inc. has collaborated with the Trans Canada Trail’s provincial partner, the Trails Society of BC, to produce highly accurate maps, that feature the locations of amenities such as parking areas, toilets and points of interest (such as the former railway stations) – becoming the only known printed map with this level of detail for trail users. Having cycled the trails myself, and recognizing the challenges in planning each day along the trail, I certainly believe that Vicom’s publication will be a valuable asset to trail users, and does a brilliant job at connecting the various stakeholders along the trail like no other publication has to date.

The Kettle Valley Express entices visitors to set a travel plan for Hope BC, the western most terminus of the KVRT, Highway #3 and the communities along that route.

Mayor Brian Taylor ~ Grand Forks, BC: In 1986, a new highway to the interior of British Columbia was developed for Expo, which unfortunately drew traffic away from Highway 3 ultimately impacting the economic growth of this region. 

Mayors residing in several of the small communities along Hwy 3 have been working together for some time regarding the marketing of South Central BC. The Kettle Valley Express’ vision of connecting and networking the small communities along Hwy 3 using the famous BC Rail Trails as a focus is in line with our vision. Making the publication and website a hub for information is the detailed map which spans the entire region and is included in each copy. The Kettle Valley Express Adventure Travel Guide has filled a gap in our marketing and is helping to put Grand Forks and other small communities back on the map.

By filling the gap, we believe this publication is having a positive impact on tourism to the area. Giving a visual geographic location to this part of BC will definitely increase exposure.

Email testimonial letter from a reader Zoli, in Port Moody, BCverifies our distribution and effectiveness in the public eye.
I saw your magazine at Vancouver airport. … My wife and I rode part of the railway near Kelowna … We’ve been talking about going back and riding that stretch and other stretches ever since. So when I read through your magazine, I realized we now have a single resource to help us plan our trip. We’d been putting it off partly because we didn’t know of an easy single resource with all the info we need before this. So thanks for putting the magazine together! I think it’ll be really helpful for us.

An included complimentary mobile friendly website: with the magazine in digital html and downloadable pdf with archives and extra links, information, business listings, videos and more is also available to increase the effectiveness of the publication.

A 6th issue was produced for 2018 which was the last issue to be produced

The 2018 spring flood that hit Grand Forks, put me in a situation that forced the closure of the guide. A revised version of the KVE Map was produced for 2019.