Group beginning to blaze trail on national network

By Carl Clutchey
Local Journalism initiative reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

Official recognition of a Thunder Bay-area recreational trail association by the country’s pre-eminent trail network is expected to raise the regional group’s profile and help it advance ongoing construction.

The Northwestern Ontario Recreational Trails Association announced this week it has been deemed “candidate ready” by the Trans Canada Trail system.

The association is building its Shabaqua Trail and scoping out a route for its proposed Kakabeka Falls initiative.

The Trans Canada Trail is the longest recreational trail in the world, connecting 15,000 rural, urban and Indigenous communities over land and water, with sections in every province and territory.

“It’s a ribbon that connects Canada’s diverse landscapes, seasons, people and experiences, and fosters unity, collaboration and connection,” a news release said.

Association president Len Day said his group’s new status will allow it “to apply for funding to offset the costs associated with construction, maintenance and signage.”

Day called the official recognition a “huge” development.

“There’s no question how recognizable a brand Trans Canada Trail is across Canada and throughout the world,” he said in the news release.

“That affiliation will help to put the Thunder Bay region on the map in terms of increasing tourism opportunities for our area.”

Thunder Bay, along with Conmee, O’Connor and Oliver Paipoonge townships, have backed the local trail projects.

Just over 40 kilometres of the 52-km Shabaqua Trail have been completed by volunteers. The trail begins at Highway 590 and Sovereign Road in O’Connor.

Work on securing a route for the 30-km Kakabeka Falls trail remains a work-in-progress, the news release said.