The pandemic lockdown having limited activities, particularly outside our homes, trails have proven to be a popular outlet for a stir-crazy public over the past few months. Many people have chosen to ride their bikes or simply walk the trails as a way to escape confinement.
To support those outings, the provincial government is providing funding to improve trail systems, including those in Woolwich and Wellesley townships.
Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris was joined by Randy Pettapiece, parliamentary assistant to the minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Kissing Bridge Trail on Wednesday morning to announce funding of $124,078 to upgrade and preserve the Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail and the Nith River Trail.
“The great thing about this is when we’re looking for low-risk activities for people to be able to get out and do during the COVID-19 pandemic [this is something they can do]. This is a great thing, you can be out here, you can be physically distancing. You can – theoretically, if you want to – bike all the way from Guelph to Goderich [on]132 kilometres of very navigable trail,” said Harris. “And these types of investments are very timely and making sure that people have the ability to get out and be physically active when we’ve all been kind of cooped up at home a little bit for the last few months. So, it’s really great that our government is fully committed to keeping this moving. We’re working with regional council and all of the different municipalities along the trail system to make sure that all the upgrades and resurfacing can take place.”
In total $76,078 will go towards the Guelph to Goderich trail to help with a full resurfacing of the trail system, hire a project manager, and create new wayfinding signage. An inventory of the entire 132-km trail system will also take place. The government funding is part of a larger $253,000 investment by the G2G Rail Trail Inc.
G2G executive director Doug Cerson said he is grateful for the funding and the money coming from the Rural Economic Development program. He noted about 70 per cent of the $300,000 project will go towards the stone dust along the trail path, while $25,000 will be spent on the signage that will allow people to better find specific parts of the trail.
“[We will be spending about] $25,000 [which] is going to resign the trail from end to end, so that it matches exactly kilometre by kilometre to our Google Maps. So online you can be looking on your phone… or computer [and] match up the kilometre mark and when you’re on the trail you can go ‘that’s my kilometre marker I know exactly where I am, how far I am from Goderich.’ That project is a tremendous amount of effort right there,” Cerson explained.
Upgrades will also be made to the Nith River Trail in New Hamburg. The $48,000 investment will aid in the hiring of a project manager, while also bringing on an engineering and design services contractor. Those costs are estimated at $161,000, with upgrades coming in the form of a trail head, heritage and directional signage, and accessibility components. Stabilizing parts of the riverbank will also take place to minimize erosion during flooding.
That project is one of 58 across the province and is part of a $3.3-million cost-share fund committed through the Rural Economic Development program.