Sean Carlson has been exploring Prince Rupert’s trails since he was a kid. Now, he wants to help others find the path. (Keili Bartlett / The Northern View)

Heart of Our City: Sean Carlson gives back as a trailblazer

President of the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society helps Rupertites get on trail

On a sunny May day in Prince Rupert, Sean Carlson is walking along McClymont Park Trail, when he stops mid-stride and mid-sentence.

“This is my favourite part of trails, when you actually stop and you aren’t looking at your shoes or at the trail, and you look up, and you see the trees,” he said, eyes on the green canopy above. “Often I think we look down too much and we forget to turn our eyes up and enjoy our surroundings.”

As the president of the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society (KITEARS), not only does Carlson spend much of his time on trails, but he spends a lot of time thinking about them as well.

Along the winding path, he stops to point out different sections that have been worked on over the years — there’s the pipe the city put in a few years back, new gravel after sewer work was done, the tree bark growing around a sign that was nailed there decades ago. These paths have a history, and Carlson is here to make sure they have a future.

A born-and-raised Rupertite, Carlson earned his bachelor of applied science and environmental engineering at the University of Alberta and the University of Northern B.C. Every summer, he’d return to Prince Rupert to visit family and, of course, run the Mount Hays QuickClimb. It was this event that, unbeknownst to him, would be Carlson’s first step toward leading KITEARS.

The QuickClimb was originally hosted by Quickload Logistics until it took a hiatus between 2010 and 2015. The Trail Society had helped with organizing for two years, and around the same time, the Rotary Club was hitting roadblocks with the long-closed Rushbrook Trail. So after graduation, when Carlson returned to Prince Rupert permanently to work with McElhanny Consulting Services, he reached out to Quickload and asked if McElhanny could become a co-sponsor. The Trail Society expanded its mandate to work on multiple trails, and Carlson became a bridge between the organizations. The QuickClimb was up and running again.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City — Nicholls and dimes

“It just helps create a more active community and a more active and healthy lifestyle for a lot of us. There are so many aspects of our lives now that make us sedentary, whether it’s our phones, our jobs, the technology that we use that we don’t need,” Carlson said. “We aren’t active on a daily basis. Getting outside and getting that physical fitness just by enjoying the outdoors, is probably the most important thing for me.”

As kids, Carlson and his brother could often be found outdoors, either on their bikes, with a fishing rod or out camping. Through school, they danced — jazz, tap, ballet, modern — and were heavy into sports and the high school musical. These days, Carlson can still be found outside, whether he’s checking on Rushbrook’s progress or at a site for work as an environmental engineer. (At Seafest, some can still see a few of his dance moves, if they know where to look.) Until recently, Carlson also served as a director for Northern Savings Credit Union.

“It didn’t come without its sleepless nights and knowing that the decision you’re making affected people in the community, people that you care about, people you knew on a personal level,” he said. “Your degrees of separation from the people are less and less as you get involved in different initiatives.”

He decided not to run again so that he can spend more time with his wife, now that she’s finishing school, and, of course, more time on trails.

“What I like about (trails) is I can put my professional knowledge to use in a way that helps the community, and then enjoy it after and see other people enjoy it and benefit from.”

In such a small town, Carlson said people will often tell him they can’t wait and have already been on Rushbrook Trail — despite the gate, which some overly eager trail-goers knocked down — and others who can’t wait but are trying to be patient.

Rushbrook Trail, in particular, is a much-anticipated trek. Many Rupertites feel a connection to the outdoors, and Carlson wants to help open it up to even more people by making the trail system more accessible to people with different mobility needs. Whether it’s people with wheelchairs, strollers or other requirements, many want to explore Rupert’s nature. And there are many people working toward the same goal. Carlson would like to see more.

“What builds a strong community is community involvement, so many of these organizations, like Special Events, Rupert Runners, Crime Stoppers, they all need new people to come and take on the roles that the older generation have so faithfully served on. To really build that vibrancy, it’s disconnecting from our technology and reconnecting in a different way.”

So where does Carlson go when he needs to disconnect and reconnect?

“Butze’s kind of a standard, but McClymont is one I do enjoy because it’s rolling, it’s quiet, it’s next to water, so you hear the water. There are pretty interesting trees that are growing. I’d have to say McClymont. And it’s close to home.”

Read more Heart of Our City profiles here.

Just Posted

We are not closed: Salvation Army addresses rumours

Prince Rupert charity issues press release that its still open, offering hot meals six days a week

Vehicle fire extinguished at Rushbrook Floats

Fire crews say there were no injuries in the incident

Terrace users on Facebook post warnings about vehicle break-ins

RCMP say it’s important to always lock your doors

B.C’s salmon advisory council to visit Rupert and skip Terrace

Public engagement tour excludes all non-coastal communities

Oil tanker ban to be reviewed by committee

Indigenous groups for and against Bill C-48 travel to Ottawa to influence the Senate’s decision

This Week News Show – Episode 115

Highlights from this week in Prince Rupert

Shop Prince Rupert is back

These businesses are all taking part in the Shop Prince Rupert event until December 21 at noon

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Most Read