Town looking to develop trail network

Those who run, jog, and bike soon may have paths apart from roads and sidewalks to get from one end of town to the other.
At Monday night’s regular meeting, council agreed to the formation of a community trail network steering committee—with the aim to investigate the possibility of developing a new trail system here.
“The Recreation Advisory Committee conducted a study about 18 months ago looking at community priorities for recreation services. And in that study, a clear, top priority was the development of trails—trails as they relate to cycling and walking trails,” Coun. Tannis Drysdale, who chairs the Community Services executive committee, noted yesterday.
“So that came before us at Community Services. And we decided, and as of last night council decided, to move forward on developing a strategy to develop trails from one end of town to another.
“It’s nothing that can be accomplished overnight, but the committee has put forth some really good ideas on how to do it at minimal cost by using existing infrastructure,” she added.
Coun. Drysdale noted Community Services already has begun examining different funding opportunities which exist because of the recent provincial push towards increased physical activity and health for Ontarians.
“This is perfect opportunity to take advantage of some of those programs,” she remarked.
The new committee consists of Coun. Drysdale, Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, Rec Advisory Committee chair Jim Cumming (who spearheaded the survey from which the need for the trails was identified), Community Services manager George Bell, municipal planner Faye Flatt, and Airport and Parks Superintendent Bill Caul.
“We hope to put forth to council, as soon as possible, a good plan for the development of access trails for recreation right across town,” said Coun. Drysdale.
She noted the “big question” at this point is exactly where the trails would be located.
“These would be different from the Eighth Street trails, which are good for skiing and walking,” she stressed.
“I think we’re looking for trails as opportunities for alternative transportation routes.
“Theoretically, you should be able to bike from one end of town to the other without concern for parked cars and the large vehicle traffic we have in Fort Frances.
“How wonderful would it be if you could ride your bike to the high school on a safe route?” she added.
“People have, on their own, made up some pretty interesting routes across town,” Coun. Drysdale continued.
“The purpose of this committee is to look at those different routes, to look at how we can possibly fund their development, and mostly, just to get going.”
Coun. Drysdale said she personally feels there’s a definite need for such a trail system.
“I think it could be a neat thing for the community. They allow for a kind of exercise everyone can do and everyone can participate in,” she remarked.
“I live down by the waterfront and see people all summer long going to access that [walkway].
“It would be kind of neat if we had a whole system linking up.
“With our museum development this year, we are going to link up the downtown to the waterfront, so the timing’s right to be doing this,” Coun. Drysdale said.