Bidding on the Future

Courtenay Rotary Club’s annual Online Auction raises funds for the final phase of the Rotary Trail

The Courtenay Rotary Club is in the third year of their current project, <a href=

story the Rotary Trail, visit a multi-use trail that, when completed, will extend from 5th Street in Downtown Courtenay all the way to 26th Street. Fundraising is underway for the third phase, with help from Rotary members Robert Buckley, Rod Hunter, Dave White, Ron Perrin and Art Meyers. The Courtenay Rotary Club’s annual Main Event Online Auction runs from April1-30.” src=”×401.jpg” width=”602″ height=”401″ /> The Courtenay Rotary Club is in the third year of their current project, the Rotary Trail, a multi-use trail that, when completed, will extend from 5th Street in Downtown Courtenay all the way to 26th Street. Fundraising is underway for the third phase, with help from Rotary members Robert Buckley, Rod Hunter, Dave White, Ron Perrin and Art Meyers. The Courtenay Rotary Club’s annual Main Event Online Auction runs from April 1-30.

Photo by Boomer Jerritt

If you’ve ever walked or cycled on a dedicated multi-use trail before, then you know there is something special about pathways that are separated from the streets. It is so relaxing to cycle or walk along a pathway without the annoyance of cars whipping by at high speeds. Instead of traffic, you hear birds, voices, and the sound of your own footsteps. Often viewed as linear parks, multi-use trails are quiet and peaceful places where people can visit while they walk along or sit on a bench, kids can explore, and dogs can sniff to their heart’s content.

The Rotary Trail is the Courtenay Rotary Club’s current project. Now on its third and final year of development, the Rotary Trail is a hard-packed multi-use trail that is comfortable for wheelchairs, wide enough to be shared by cyclists, and enormously popular with walkers. The trail currently stretches from 5th Street to 17th Street, right through the heart of Courtenay, and travels alongside or near to the existing railway line. It is a key route for commuters and an important connection between neighborhoods, schools and businesses.

The Courtenay Rotary Club has a rich history here in the Comox Valley. Since 1936 the Courtenay Rotary has been working to improve the quality of life for those who choose to call our valley home. Besides the Rotary Trail, the most recent project of the Courtenay Rotary was the Comox Valley Hospice Project. Before that the club spearheaded and built the Simms Park Millennium Pavilion. Even Simms Park itself owes its existence to the Rotary Club, since the Courtenay Rotary Club, from 1983 to 1989, raised funds to purchase the Simms property to preserve it as a public park space.

These days Courtenay Rotary likes to focus on major projects that take three years to accomplish. After they completed their last three year project—raising $150,000 to fund the construction of a new residential hospice—the club knew that a new venture was needed, but they didn’t have anything specific in mind. So they enlisted the help of the citizens of the Valley by putting out a questionnaire asking what the respondents would like to see as the Rotary’s next project.

“The citizens of Courtenay made the decision as to what our next project would be,” says Neil Havers, public relations director for the Courtenay Rotary Club. “We canvassed the community through local media and a walking/hiking/biking trail was the most popular request.”

Coincidentally, right around this time the Courtenay Rotary Club received a call from a group called the Island Corridor Foundation, a non-profit organization working to preserve the E&N corridor. In addition to working to reinstate the actual train service, the Island Corridor Foundation also promotes and facilitates the “Rail with Trail” system—a continuous multi-use trail that may someday run alongside the entire length of railway bed from Victoria to Courtenay.

In 2011, with the support of the community, the City of Courtenay, and the help of the Island Corridor Foundation, the Courtenay Rotary Club began the three-year process of building a trail from 5th Street to 26th Street. The first year the trail was constructed from 5th to Cumberland Road. The second year the trail was extended as far as 17th. This year, the Rotary Trail will be extended to 26th.

Though most of the work of building the trail was done by workers employed by the City of Courtenay, the Rotarians rolled up their sleeves to help out where they could.

“We Rotarians like to do hands on work,” Havers says. “We couldn’t do the actual trail building—the City crews did that—but we did prepare the area beforehand. We cleared away the Scotch broom and other plants, and we cleaned out the ditch that ran alongside the rail line.”

The Rotary Trail is heavily used by walkers and runners, and it’s also very popular with cyclists. Ed Schum of the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition uses the trail on a regular basis. “I think I can speak for all the cyclists in the Valley when I say that the Rotary Trail is a definite step in the right direction,” says Schum. “We really appreciate that Rotary has taken on this project and we look forward to the trail being extended to 26th Street—and maybe someday the trail will follow alongside the rail bed all the way to Victoria.”

Though the trail runs alongside the railway, it will still be safe even after the trains recommence travel between Victoria and Courtenay. That’s because there is a gap between the actual railway and the walkway, and fencing will eventually be constructed to provide additional safety.

The Courtenay Rotary Club is now on its third and final year of the Rotary Trail Project. However, they can only complete the trail if they are able to raise the necessary funds. Every year for the past five years the Rotary Club has conducted an online auction as its main fundraising event.

“Each year we depend on money raised from our annual fundraising event to fund our civic projects,” says Havers. “The online auction is the Courtenay Rotary Club’s major fundraising event of the year. We had been hosting a gala auction for over 20 years. Its success led to many other organizations putting on similar events. We watched participation wane over the years and decided we needed to go in another direction to continue successfully raising funds for our community projects.”

The online auction has caught on and is now a popular and user-friendly way to raise money. Unlike a gala, you don’t have to get dressed up to help the Courtenay Rotary. Instead you can help from the comfort of your home—wearing your pyjamas instead of a ball gown or a tux.

This year the Courtenay Rotary’s Main Event Online Auction, which takes place from April 1-30, is more exciting than ever. That’s because there is something very big being offered up for bid this year—literally.

In partnership with Art Winter of AH Winter and Son Construction and John Verrier of Avril Homes, as well as numerous tradespeople and suppliers, this year the Courtenay Rotary Club will be auctioning off a brand new townhouse located at Ridge View Development on Muir Road in Courtenay. “The Courtenay Rotary Club is very excited about auctioning off a brand new Muir Ridge town home,” says Havers. “We’ve never had anything so unique up for bid. We expect it will have a dramatic effect in helping our online auction raise funds required for our project, as well as give a young family the opportunity to own their own spacious three bedroom home.”

Though the townhouse is valued at $259,900, the bidding will start at $229,900. The difference between the reserved bid and the winning bid will determine the amount of money raised for the Courtenay Rotary Club. The money will be used to fund the trail as well as other community services provided by the Club.

In addition to the townhouse, there will be many other goods and services offered up for bid. Through the generous gifts from local businesses and sponsors, this year’s item list includes something for everyone. There are restaurant gift certificates, spa services, advertising specials, automotive services and dental services. There are also electronics up for bid, such as a 23-inch monitor and a mini camcorder. There’s even a trip to Las Vegas up for bid, as well as Canucks tickets and a Mount Washington 6IXPAK.

All of the items can be viewed online, so it’s easy for people to take a look and decide if they’re interested in something. Bidding is easy too, and after you place a bid, you can go online at any time to view your current bidding status.

“The people of the Comox Valley have put their trust in the Rotary for many years,” Havers notes. And with your support, the Courtenay Rotary Club hopes to continue serving the citizens of the Comox Valley for years to come.


To visit the Courtenay Rotary Club online auction go to:

Auction items can also be viewed on Facebook at:

For more about the Island Corridor Foundation: