Lambton County could soon join a provincial trail which connects 68 communities.
Marlaine Koehler, executive director, Waterfront Regeneration Trust recently went to Lambton politicians to ask that the county’s 200 kilometers of trail become the next phase of the project which travels from Toronto up to Lambton’s border.
Koehler says she was impressed with the cycling trails which wind along the waterways and through the county road system. “I was quite shocked and quite pleased with what I saw when I visited here,” she says.
“Deep down as Ontarians, we love our Great Lakes…and a trail makes sense,” says Koehler. “Everyone is nudging it forward to make it successful.”
And she says as each community joins, it recommends moving further up the Great Lakes. “They look at that map and say ‘why are you stopping here…you shouldn’t stop at Lakeshore…You should go up to Grand Bend,” she says. “Nobody wants to be the end of the trail.”
While there is community pride involved, Koehler says there will be an economic benefit, too.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for cycling tourism,” says Koehler. “Over $291 million is spent in Ontario…cycle tourists stay longer and spend more money. The US cycling market is $47 billion…they’re already marketing into Canada and we want to tap into that.”
While some think the idea is a great idea, there is some concern. St. Clair Township Deputy Mayor Peter Gilliland says his community has 20 kilometers of trails which are 95 percent complete. “Some of our committee members have mild concern…they didn’t want to lose our identity as the St. Clair Trail.”
Koehler says the Waterfront Regeneration Trust would provide some signage so people will be able to tell Lambton’s trails are part of a larger provincial system but the trails remain in the community’s hands with its own name.
Koehler says the trust would help the community market the trails on line.