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Trans Canada trail gap to close by 2014 in New Tecumseth

Posted October 16, 2012

The Trans Canada Trail intends to complete its cross country connection as a celebration project for Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation, in 2017.

New Tecumseth has the largest break in the chain in Ontario, about 26 km starting in the south from Tottenham, and to the north at Cookstown. Many aborted attempts have taken place since 1991's amalgamation to develop a local trail system.

While it's proposed mostly to follow the Town-owned right-of-way along the abandoned CN Rail line, farmers and property owners whose lands dissect it have objected to its use as a trail.

However, the focus the past three or four years has included alternative routes that would include following roads.

Minutes of the most recent parks and recreation advisory committee note that renewed planning is well underway and that funding sources are being tapped that include Simcoe County, and the Trans Canada Trail's non-profit organization.

"We are moving ahead on the trails, this is something a lot of people are actually looking forward to," said Ward 1 councillor and advisory committee member Bob Marrs last night. "A lot of people use the trails when the trails are there, and there's been a lot of work done towards that. And we're really pushing forward to get the Trans Canada Trail done and we're also looking at other trails that are going to help so we actually have them in through towns as well. So it's going to be a big boon for people. We'll be able to get a bike trail, and these also include a bridal path along the side. I think this is going to be phenomenal and we are moving ahead."

The proposed trails in New Tecumseth will be designed and constructed to meet Trans Canada Trails standards at 4 meters wide with standardized granular materials. There will also be an 18" to 24" wide bridal path parallel to the trail, according to the minutes. The Trans Canada Trail portions will connect to the Tottenham Conservation Area and various selected areas of town, will be approximately 26 km and is expected to be complete by 2014

But in a reminder at the hurdles the trail development still must overcome, Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb said the concerns about its location are unchanged.

"I do know part of the old rail line goes through very active agricultural community and animals, for example buffalo, and we've had an issue with the buffalo just recently, (one got loose and owner had to kill it)," said Ms. Jebb. "So we do have to recognize and be sensitive to the agricultural community and the animals adjacent to that rail line. So if there's a different way to get the trail around, via the side of the road where people are visible if there's an accident or whatever, that would be a better way. But I'd really like to make sure that the farmers, the property owners along that trail, are part of this discussion."

An assurance mayor Mike MacEachern said would be part of the deal.

"I think there is a commitment to work with property owners to make sure we're not being intrusive into their properties with trails," he said.

Ward 7 councillor Bruce Haire, said "I'm happy to see the bridal path will go along beside the trail so it's horse access as well."

"It's quite easy to do the trail north from Hwy 9 into Tottenham, and it's difficult in the middle, and it's pretty easy in the north end down from Cookstown," he said. "It's just in between that Manager Osmond has to do some finagling, negotiate some rights of way."

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