SOOKE, B.C. -- An new urban trail was officially opened Thursday in Sooke.

The Stickleback Urban Trail runs 6.5 kilometres, connecting Clarkson Park to the Galloping Goose Trail. It is designated as mixed use, so walkers, runners and cyclists can all enjoy.

Community members and stakeholders inaugurated the trail at John Phillips Memorial Park with music and drumming from the Sooke Youth Harmony Project.

The trail project was a partnership between the Sooke District and the Juan de Fuca Community Trail Society.

The Stickleback Urban Trail links existing paths to form a functional route. Surrounded by natural beauty, the trail features wayfinding posts, map tables, a central kiosk and a water fountain with a water bottle filling station and a faucet for pets.

“What we’ve been working on is creating safe, accessible connections throughout our community,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “What it brings out is the community spirit in Sooke. The Juan de Fuca Trail Society worked with us to find and develop the route. We also commissioned artists to develop the wayfinding signage.”

Sid Jorna, of the Juan de Fuca Trail Community Society, said the organization was “thrilled” to work with the district on the project.

The District of Sooke has been updating its Parks and Trails Master Plan and its Transportation Master Plan with involvement from the community over the last year. Tait says there are two more trail connectors in the works for the area: the Sea Walk Trail – which will connect Sooke with the water, running from John Phillips Memorial Park to the harbour – and the Sun Run trail, which will connect the Sun River Estates community with the rest of Sooke. That trail will also connect Poitier Elementary and Journey Middle schools with Sun River.

The district has applied for a grant for funding and hopes to complete the new trails by next year.

“Our roadways are busy, so it’s important to get residents out to more natural settings in a safe way,” said Tait.

Residents can also take part in the “Seek n’ Snap: Stickleback Urban Trail Scavenger Hunt,” which encourages people to have fun exploring the the new trail while learning more about the natural environment. More information about the scavenger hunt and the trail itself can be found on the district’s website.