Geocachers who collect stickers from all eight of the new geocaches the Gold Country Communities Society is introducing will be able to claim one of these gold bars.

Geocachers who collect stickers from all eight of the new geocaches the Gold Country Communities Society is introducing will be able to claim one of these gold bars.

Gold Country Communities Society has lots of projects on the go

New billboards near area communities, new geocache locations, and the introduction of the Bead Trail program are all in the works.

The Gold Country Communities Society (GCCS) has been hard at work on a variety of projects, and chief operating officer Terri Hadwin is excited to see them becoming reality.

“We’ve signed a contract with the Village of Cache Creek to manage the visitor information centre again,” she says, noting that the trend over the past two years has been for visitation numbers to go up across the province. “Kat Chatten will be there full-time until mid-September, and the centre will be open on weekends.”

The society has also signed on with the popular Bead Trail program, which has been a huge success in the Okanagan. Participating businesses and organizations have a bead designed for them, which they then sell for a fixed price of $6.95. Bracelets are also available for sale at participating locations, for people to display their beads on if they wish.

The bead for the GCCS, which will be available at the society’s office and at the visitor centre, will be gold to represent Gold Country and have a Canada 150 theme, says Hadwin. “We’re very excited about them, and will have them by the time the visitor centre opens on May 15. And while I’m delivering the GCCS trail guides, I’ll stop in with businesses to tell them about the program. We’ll also be putting it in the e-newsletter we send to all stakeholders, and they can sign up on the website.”

She says that businesses can “go crazy” with the design for their bead. “It can be very specific, like a logo, or more generic. You can be very hands-on with the bead design. They’re a nice feature. People can get a souvenir from each place they visit but not at an extravagant cost.”

There is a yearly membership fee, which gets participants on the interactive online map and in printed materials. Hadwin says that because of the timing, anyone taking part in the bead trail this year would be online right away, but probably not in the printed material until next year. Anyone interested in taking part in the Bead Trail program can call Hadwin at (250) 457-6606, or e-mail goldcountry@telus.net.

Travellers passing through 70 Mile, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Lillooet, Logan Lake, and Spences Bridge have probably noticed the large billboards at highway pull-outs near those communities, giving information about Gold Country and the towns. All of them have been rewritten and are being replaced, something Hadwin says has been on the GCCS wish list for some time.

“We felt the old ones were outdated and needed updating. The new signs will all be up by mid-April and will be much lower-maintenance. And they’ll be cohesive with the Gold Rush Trail branding.”

The billboard at the Red Hills rest stop south of Ashcroft on Highway 1 has been updated. Photo courtesy Gold Country Communities Society.

The society recently received a $10,000 grant to complete a business plan and do a feasibility study to determine the best future location of the GCCS office, currently located at the junction of Highways 1 and 97 in Cache Creek.

“We have to research a number of questions,” says Hadwin. “Is Cache Creek still the best fit for our office to be based out of? What would be the cost of purchasing or developing a property? We’re exploring a lot of different possibilities. The current building is not entirely suitable, and parking there can be daunting.

“We love the partnership we have running the visitor centre, and feel it would be better to have everyone in one space. We have to decide if we move to the visitor information centre, which would mean expansion, or if we purchase a building or build something new. We’re excited about what the future might hold.”

The society’s AGM is being hosted in Clinton on May 10, and Hadwin says they have seats available on the board of directors for Cache Creek, Lytton, and TNRD Area “M”. “We have two representatives from each municipality and regional district area: they can be business people, someone in tourism, or someone from local government, either council or staff.”

And good news for geocachers who have already visited the 142 sites on the GCCS GeoTour: another eight permanent sites are being added to take the total up to 150, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Hadwin says that the GCCS received funding from the TNRD and from Northern Development Initiative Trust to research, develop, and install the new sites.

“We’re getting started with that so we can write these amazing stories,” says Hadwin, noting that a researcher has started looking at suitable locations for the new caches. “And our special coin, a gold bar, will be available for people who collect stickers from all eight of the brand new locations.”