Board of Directors

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Vancouver Island has always inspired hard work and produced dedicated people. The keen people that founded the Vancouver Island Trail Association (VITA) are just the latest in a history of travelers that set off to explore the Island that they appreciate so much.

 

Having seen an unparalleled opportunity, they set themselves a bold challenge: to plan and implement a continuous Trail along the full length of the Island, engaging people along the way.  This is a rugged land, including some of the best wilderness the Island has to offer.  As with those who set off before them, VITA faces hard work to achieve their goal.  Fortunately, they can draw upon an Island community no stranger to pulling together.

 


Liz Bicknell – President

Liz Bicknell-01As President of the Vancouver Island Trail Association Liz will collaborate and work in partnership with tourism associations, business groups, First Nations and outdoor groups to promote the trail.

Liz Bicknell is a retired Public Servant.  Liz retired from the BC Public Service in 2015 where she served at the senior level, in public engagement, community outreach and strategic planning positions.  Previously, Liz served in a diplomatic role with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Africa and worked in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya from 1973 – 1983.  Liz is Past President of the Outdoor Club of Victoria, a club founded in 1942 and a strong supporter of VITA.  Liz sat on the Board of Governors at Royal Roads University and she is a former volunteer with the Crime Prevention Unit for the Victoria Police Department.  Liz is passionate about the outdoors and ensuring that future generations have the same access to trails that we enjoy today.

 


Gil Parker – Past President

gilGil Parker, Founder and President of the Vancouver Island Trail, is a life-long hiker and climber, and a Life member of the Alpine Club of Canada that awarded him their Distinguished Service Award. After climbing in many countries over decades, he turned to long-distance hiking, completing most of the 4500 km Pacific Crest Trail.

A structural engineer with Dominion Bridge and Willis, Cunliffe and Tait (later Delcan), Gil designed bridges and buildings, winning the Civil Engineering Prize of the Consulting Engineers of Canada for a railway overpass.  He created a solar business, Ark Solar Products, and consulted on solar projects in India, United  Arab Republic and Canada.  He ran a trading firm, specializing in consultation and equipment sales in the newly-opened USSR, and later, Russia.

As a writer, Gil published many articles in National magazines and newspapers, then turned to writing books.  He wrote four books, most with an outdoor theme, and edited two; one is a trail guide for northern Vancouver Island.  With separate degrees in Engineering, Writing and Management, Gil has been active in community and international affairs, holding a Fellowship from the Rotary Club, and Honorary Citizenship from the City of Victoria.

 


Ken Milbrath – Past President

ken_milbrathKen Milbrath graduated from UVic with a B.Sc. Geography in 1975, then completed his MBA at Dalhousie in 1978.  A varied career in commercial lending, teaching Finance and Marketing at UVic and at Camosun College, managing the Business and Industry Development Centre at UVic, and  managing the 87 Business Information Centres in B.C.  He’s had the entrepreneurial bug since collecting pop bottles as a kid.  Ken’s last business, KR Data Communications Inc. was the first commercial Internet Service Provider in Victoria.  He also started a landscaping business from the side of his desk, a calling his son Dan has taken up with Costa Verde Contracting Ltd.  He’s a Paul Harris Fellowship member of Harbourside Rotary Club since 1987.

Ken and Brenda have been married since 1975, with 4 children, all successful entrepreneurs in their own right.  They met at the UVic Outdoors Club and has hiked and camped throughout our gorgeous Island.  “ Six of us were the first to walk the West Coast Trail in Winter 1972, using 300 feet of climbing rope and an inflatable canoe.   We spent New Years at Tsusiat Falls.“  He was also involved with environmental causes such as stopping the widening of Highway 1 through Goldstream Park.   Ken is also responsible for creating the Pemberton/Centennial Trail, a community building initiative linking Victoria’s Inner Harbour with South Oak Bay.

 


Elena Elder – Vice President

elenaeldernepalElena is originally from the West Kootenays and has made Victoria home since moving here in 2008 to complete her degree in commerce at Royal Roads University.  She is a Chartered Professional Accountant currently working with the Capital Regional District and has a background in Public Practice Accounting.

Elena joined the VITA Board in 2016 and sees the through trail as an incredible opportunity to increase ecotourism and connect communities up and down the Island.  Her love of the outdoors, adventure and travel keep her exploring the ever-expanding network of trails that the Island has to offer.  In the past few years Elena has hiked in Nepal, Thailand, Spain and all over BC.  These trips have motivated her support in the local VITA efforts.  Imagining the full 700+ km trail with lodging, camping, resupply post offices, hard routes and easy routes, hikers from around the world and the kind of camaraderie that comes with a long day on the trail keeps her inspired in the journey.

 


Bill Feyrer – Treasurer

billBill is an Alberta native, graduated as an engineer from the University of Alberta, and moved to Victoria in 1971.  He managed Harjim Industrial Services and then worked for Nicholson Manufacturing as Canadian Sales Manager until retirement in 2003.  He is a member of the Victoria-Harbourside Rotary Club, a Past President and currently active in International Humanitarian Service work.

Bill has enjoyed back-country hiking for many years since climbing in the Bugaboos in the 60’s and taking a climbing course at the Y in the early ‘70s where he met Gil Parker.  In the years following, Bill and Gil have done a number of trips together on the Island and the Rockies that usually include Peter Berrang.  He has also been with Gil to Patagonia (Chile/Argentina), to the Caucasus in Georgia and once, did a week-long hike alone in the Salzkammergut of Austria.

Bill’s favorite statement is:  “I am not lost; I am just not where I want to be.”

 


Peter Berrang – Director at Large

peterPeter is a founding director of VITA.  He has been an active hiker over the past 35 years and has explored many trails on Vancouver Island.

Peter is also still active in various outdoor sports such as kite-boarding and uni-cycling.

Peter is currently retired, but remains active on various corporate boards such as Carmanah Technologies Inc., Ocean Rodeo Sports Inc., and the various Axys Group of Companies.   In past years, he also served as a director on various volunteer boards in the community, including the YMCA-YWCA of Victoria and Choices Adoption Society.

In past years, Peter, who has a science background,  co-founded and managed various high technology companies in B.C.  He holds more than 20 patents in various areas of technology such as fibre optics, medical devices, battery technology and some sports products.

 


Terry Lewis – Director – Operations

Terry became a Director of VITA in 2014 after acting as an informal representative in the Comox Valley for a couple of years.  In the prior 7 years, Terry had been building trails on the slopes above the Comox Valley for both mountain bikers and hikers.  Indeed, mountain biking was a passion of his for a decade or more, replacing trail running to take it easier on his aging joints (now 74).  Terry has hiked and backpacked around the Province since the 1960’s.  The Stein valley was a particular interest in the 70’s – exploring and writing of the valley prior to its establishment as a wilderness park.

In his working life, Terry was an independent consultant for over 40 years, dba ‘Consulting in Soils and Land Use’.  This followed his education in forestry and soil science at UBC.  As a consultant, Terry worked on projects in forestry, agriculture, transportation and regional planning, and more recently with utilities including a ‘wind farm’.  In the 70’s, he assisted the BC Land Commission during the establishment of Agriculture Land Reserves throughout B.C.  and in the 90’s, Terry served as a member of the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound, which brought major changes to forest management in coastal B.C.  In the years leading up to his retirement a few years ago, Terry was involved in the implementation of Ecosystem-based Management in the ‘Great Bear Rain Forest’ of central and north coast B.C.

Terry believes the Trail will become a great way for both residents and visitors to learn about and appreciate the natural, cultural and historical diversity of the jewel that we know as Vancouver Island.  As a Director of VITA, his focus is on operations – the planning and building of the Trail.

 


Jordan Brietzke – Director – Government Liaison

Jordan currently works as a development consultant for affordable housing projects throughout British Columbia.  Jordan holds a Masters of Community Planning and a Bachelor of Applied Ecotourism and Outdoor Leadership degree.  He has experience working in local government and is passionate about the creation and implementation of meaningful planning policy, coupled with collaborative public engagement, to help projects become a reality.

In his spare time, Jordan can be found hiking and trail running all over Vancouver Island but also enjoys racing marathons and ultra-marathons all over the world.  Jordan intends to run the Vancouver Island Trail in the Summer of 2021!

 

 


Doug Goodman – Director – North Island

Doug GoodmanDoug has been wandering along trails and through the bush since he learned to walk.  Before moving to Victoria in 1972 at the age of 14, he explored scrub, meadows, ravines and forests in Africa, Germany, and four provinces of Canada.  While in Victoria Doug spent 12 years studying mathematics and biology at the University of Victoria, eventually specializing in forest biology and working for the Canadian Forest Service.  Doug was an active expedition leader with the Victoria Group of the Sierra Club in the 1970’s and with the Vancouver Island Section of the Alpine Club in the 1990’s.  After a move to Port Hardy in 2001 to be a teacher, his passion for mountain biking led him to build and maintain many kilometers of trails near Port Hardy and Port McNeill.  Since 2005, Doug has worked as a forest engineer, planning logging roads and cutblocks on the north island and mainland mid-coast.  He now lives in Sointula, surrounded by trees and birds.

 


Stephen Stirling  – Director – Mid Island

VISpineBoardStephenStirling

Steve is a retired law trade worker who was born and raised in Duncan.  He attended the University of Victoria and the University of Alberta.  In the course of his education and employment he has lived in Duncan, Victoria, Campbell River and for the last 40 years in Port Alberni.  His father was an ardent outdoorsman and in his later years a dedicated trail builder.  As a result of his influence, a supportive wife, two large and very persuasive dogs, and a long extinct passion for distance running, Steve has spent a large part of his life messing about on Vancouver Island trails and mountains.  In recent years, he has been working with Harold Carlson and the rest of the Alberni Trail Crew in building and maintaining trails in the Alberni Valley.

 

 

 


David Webb – Director at Large

David Webb, self-employed for many years in the Lower Mainland,  retired in 2012 and with his wife Sandra (Sandy) moved to French Creek, Vancouver Island in 2016. He wished to pick up as quickly as possible where he had left off in southwestern B.C. as a B.C. Parks volunteer and was steered by his good brother toward the Vancouver Island Spine Trail, now the V.I. Trail.  David had volunteered with B.C. Parks primarily in Skagit and Manning Provincial Parks clearing tree fall, and maintaining park trails for a good number of years. David and his trail partner Don Scott were jointly named as ‘B.C. Parks Volunteer of the Year’ in 2016 for their contribution to the province’s parks and protected area system.

Since early 2017, David has been working as a volunteer for V.I.T.A. under the direction of Terry Lewis, Director of Operations, and alongside several great crew members from Port Alberni, clearing, maintaining and building trail anywhere from the Nitinat River in the south to north of the Suquash River estuary near Port McNeill.

His vision, hopefully within his lifetime, is to ultimately see the Vancouver Island Trail become an extension to the Trans Canada Trail and Pacific Crest Trail systems – a realistic and reachable dream.