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Friday, November 21, 2008

Trail link grows

Trail link grows

Gravel was poured this week on a stretch of abandoned rail line in the north end of Simcoe to create another link in a nationwide trail system.

When the work is done, the pathway will run from Argyle Street to 13th Street in the north end of town and will connect the Lynn Valley Trail to the Waterford Heritage Trail.

It is the missing link in creating a biking and hiking path straight through from Waterford to Port Dover.

It is also a step in hooking up Norfolk County with the national trail system. Once another stretch of trail is completed between Waterford and Mount Pleasant, a trail will run all the way from Lake Erie to Brantford, where the national trail picks up.

"We're extremely excited," said Mark Boerkamp, president of the Rotary Club of Norfolk, Sunrise, the service club that raised the $139,000 needed to fix up the stretch in the north end of Simcoe.

"There will be big spinoffs for tourism."

Kevin Lichach, general manager of community services for Norfolk County, which owns the land the trail is on, said a trail will help local residents lead "healthy, active lifestyles" and help "protect the eco-systems along these corridors."

The county, Lichach said, is devising a trail strategy for the whole municipality, one that will look at creating east-west routes as well as try to provide paths for ATV riders.

A consultant was hired about a week ago and a final report is expected to go to council in February or March of next year.

The trail system could also be used in the future as a service corridor for such things as water and sewer pipes.

"We can put in services and still have a trail," Lichach said.

The stretch of trail in the north end of Simcoe will be known as the Norfolk Sunrise Trail.

The club is planning to put up signage and steel gates at crossroads to prevent motorized vehicles from using the trail.

Funding has come from a Trillium grant, sponsors, and in-kind donations from the county.

The first cyclists could be using the trail in the spring, Boerkamp said.

His club, he added, is planning a fundraising bike trek on the trail shortly after it opens.

"These spinoffs help everybody in the community," he said.

Article ID# 1306565

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