Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Former Councillor Offers Thoughts on Proposed Dissolution of Georgian Trail Board

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The dissolution of the Georgian Trail Board concerns me. I was on that board for eight years.

Although there are duplications within the municipalities such as Treasurer and Secretary, it is a joint board of three municipalities. There is always room for critiquing and making sure that the board/committee is viable within the context of the municipal act as it stands now.

The board now is made up of two elected officials from each municipality, one recreation staff member from each municipality, two members of the Georgian Ski and Cycle Association, a staff secretary, and a trail maintenance coordinator. To me this is a good representation for the public interest.

The trail has provided a successful opportunity for working together with three municipalities as well as joint funding opportunities.

A few years ago, we changed to a maintenance format which included more staff involvement.

This means that each municipality would look after repairs in their areas that the maintenance coordinator could not do and would suggest to the corresponding municipality. A team effort if you will.

There are two major projects to look forward to: the trestle bridge in Thornbury and the culvert in Meaford. These are very expensive projects. Normally what would happen is that the trail board would investigate the problem and apply for grant funding for repairs/maintenance in order to keep costs down per funding formula for each municipality. If there was not a maintenance overseer, then these repairs would become part of the infrastructure programs of each municipality. Who knows when they would be repaired since other infrastructure will be more essential than the trail’s problems.

As far as motorized vehicles go, the three partners agreed that the focus of the trail would be a healthy, leisure walking and biking trail. Having said that, I am not against using the trails in town to get from point A to point B while operating an assisted device. It is safer than using the roads. Also, comparing us to Collingwood is not valid since Collingwood is a City and has little rural area. Motorized vehicles would be a hazard for leisure walking, biking for children, seniors, and pets alike. Having motorized vehicles on the trail would require much more monitoring with the OPP as well as become the race track to get to Thornbury or Collingwood in a hurry, in my opinion. Common sense cannot be legislated. There are already problems on the trail due to golf carts. These vehicles are electric, which is better for the environment but do not fit the criteria of leisure activity. They also cannot be heard from behind for walkers.

My last comment is that if motorized vehicles are allowed, it will cost more to maintain the foundation of the trail because it would need to be done more frequently.


Lynda Stephens, Meaford

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