(TLTI – March 29, 2021)
The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands (TLTI), Front of Yonge Township (FOY), and the Ontario Trails Council (OTC), in partnership with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) are banding together to create a solution to the issues of ploughing the multi-use recreational trail along the Thousand Islands Parkway (TIP). They hope to find a solution for the winter of 2021 that will not only allow for safe trail usage but that will also improve that experience for all users.
As more and more people take to the out of doors to enjoy all kinds of activities, trails have taken on a significant level of importance throughout the Province. Their impact extends beyond the physical and emotional health of people to the economical health of a region. Creating and maintaining a committee of volunteers to help with the formal trail making and maintenance programs will help with future decision-making and strengthen community collaboration and engagement.
“The SLPC has heard the concerns raised by local community members regarding the conditions along the Thousand Islands Parkway multi-use recreational trail during the winter months,” said the Honourable Bob Runciman, Chair, SLPC. “The SLPC supports and recognizes that a collaborative working group with stakeholders from the Front of Yonge Township and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands is key to reaching a unified resolution that allows users to continue to safely enjoy the trail.”
By bringing FOY and TLTI together to help in the development of trail committees, better and more comprehensive programs for trail maintenance and usage can be developed and the region can design solutions unique to their own needs.
“One of our pillars of better trails is the development of community trail committees, which we do with the support of groups such as the SLPC and its stakeholders,” said Patrick Connor OTC CEO. “Through these committees we can resolve landowner, maintenance, signage and other use or operational issues so that both local residents and trail tourists are well served by trails.”
Over the past year, residents of TLTI have expressed concern over trail usage along the TIP. A strong and effective local trails committee is a first step toward finding solutions that will serve all residents. There is also a possibility of improving funding for trail projects and for educating the public as to proper trail usage.
“Trail systems are incredibly important; they provide opportunity for low-cost recreation, allow for social interaction, and connect people with their natural environment,” said Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke, TLTI. “We witnessed a huge increase in use of our trails as the pandemic kept us distanced and pushed us to reconnect with the outdoors. Never has it been more important for us to support maintenance and upkeep of trails for residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty of our area. We look forward to working with the Ontario Trails Council and our neighbours to ensure that the Parkway Recreational Trail continues to be enjoyed and accessible to all.”
“Front of Yonge is looking forward to developing a working relationship with the SLPC, the OTC and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, said Mayor Roager Haley, FOY. “Not so long ago, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville partnered with the SLPC to revitalize the bike path, providing $400,000 toward the resurfacing. The Path is recognized by the entire region as an important recreational opportunity for a variety of year-round activities.”
The bike path is a long and scenic paved recreational trail extending along the TIP between Gananoque and Brockville. Although designed for multiple uses, it is not maintained during the winter months. While it is open for use to skiers, snowshoers, and pedestrians, motorized vehicles are not allowed on the paved trail. However, snowmobiles are allowed on the north lane of the TIP and land north of the recreational trail. Rules are in place, including speed limits, with the idea of improving use and enjoyment for all local residents.
With a fully cooperative trail committee in place, the players hope to see improvements to the recreational trail which will encourage safe and cooperative us of the system by all those who wish to use it in the winter months. For more about SLPC, go to www.parks.on.ca , and for more about the OTC, go to www.ontariotrails.ca .