In August, I was one of 220 cyclists participating in the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure along the shores of Lake Erie. We started in the town of Lakeshore and ended 600km later in Fort Erie. Every morning at breakfast, a local politician would greet us and sing the virtues of their municipality. A facilitator would brief us on the day’s ride ahead, the highlights and what to look for in terms of geography, crops and local history.
The ride entered Norfolk County on day five and many cyclists opted to ride out to Long Point Provincial Park along the causeway. We camped in Turkey Point Provincial Park and some riders went zip-lining or wine tasting. The next day we rode the very scenic lakeshore through Norfolk County and the cyclists from the GTA were awed and impressed with the beauty and hospitality that greeted us.
Highlights and things I learned:
- Essex Kent has 77 kms of dedicated bike lanes and paths with plans to increase that to 800kms by investing $57 million by 2017.
- Amherstburg is a beautiful little town that I plan on revisiting.
- Point Pelee and Rondeau Provincial Parks are gems.
- Thomas Talbot was an autocrat and not that nice of a man.
- The submarine in Port Stanley was worth the visit.
- And finally, the minute 220 cyclists entered Norfolk County, the weather improved, the roads were better, the vegetation more lush and the people the friendliest (I’m showing my bias here).
Kudos to the Waterfront Regeneration Trust staff for organizing such a great trip and for bringing cycling enthusiasts to Norfolk County.
Submitted by Rob Luke
Great Waterfront Trail Adventure [GWTA]
The GWTA was created in 2008 by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust to create a 740km route from Quebec City to Niagara along the shores of Lake Ontario. In 2012, a new 600km route was created along the shore of Lake Erie from Fort Erie to the Detroit River and on to the shores of Lake St. Clair. The best part of the new route passes through Norfolk County and if you drive the Front and Lakeshore Roads, you will have seen the new signs marking the route with a bird, leaf, and a fish.
The GWTA has 2 mandates:
- Expand and enhance the Lake Waterfront Trails and Greenway as part of a larger strategy to regenerate the waterfront; and
- Promote the Waterfront Trails and Greenway as a way to achieve a healthy environment and lifestyle.
In order to promote the trail, the organization hosts an annual weeklong tour. This carefully organized and fully-supported trip has amazing logistics:
- Shuttle service was offered from the finish line to the start line.
- Luggage was moved from destination to destination.
- Support vehicles were on the route along with partnering CAA trailers that could carry 40-50 bicycles at a time.
- In most communities we visited, local non- profit organizations provided full course meals.
- A private company provided camping gear and when a rider reached the day’s destination his tent was already set up and a hot shower was waiting.
- A cell phone charging station was available.
- Detailed route maps were distributed daily.
The latest announcement from the Waterfront Regeneration Trust is the opening of the Greenway Cycling Route around the Greater Toronto Area that will launch in 2015.
Submitted by Rob Luke
Welcome Cyclists Network
The Welcome Cyclists Network is a program certifying and promoting bicycle friendly tourism businesses and cycle tourism in Norfolk County and across Ontario. With an increasing number of cycle tourists and the launch of the Lake Erie Waterfront Trail register for this free promotion that helps cyclists find your location. www.welcomecyclists.ca/join-the-network
Pathways for People – what exactly does this group do, anyway?
Did you know that the Pathways for People [P4P] committee meets monthly to discuss local issues related to walking and cycling in Norfolk County? We…
- Share updates on trail development being conducted by the county and trail group volunteers.
- Keep an eye on provincial level initiatives that have local implications to support Active Transportation [AT] and write letters of support as needed.
- Plan and host three trail events each year to showcase the amazing trails in the area.
- Promote the Share the Road program.
- Have a seat on the Trails Advisory Committee.
- And we are an active voice when council is making decisions that can impact AT for residents and visitors.
P4P met in September to do some strategic planning and identify some future activities for us to take on. We aim to:
- Do more self-promotion to increase public awareness of what we do and gain public interest and support.
- Participate in the Official Plan Review to support policies that will enhance AT.
- Reach out to candidates in the 2014 municipal election to introduce ourselves and determine where they stand on issues related to AT in Norfolk County.
To learn more about P4P, visit our website: www.norfolkpathways.ca. Check out our resume or contact any of our members. Get involved and have a voice to make Norfolk County a better place to live and visit.
Submitted by Michele Crowley
Discover the trails at Backus Woods!
The Nature Conservancy of Canada [NCC] has been busy working on the Backus Woods Trail System and now boasts over 20km of well signed trails. Large “You are Here” map signs can be found at major roadway trailheads with smaller maps at every trail intersection. Interpretive signs can teach you a thing or two about the natural history and species of Backus Woods. Three hundred metres of boardwalks were replaced or added and two new bridges were constructed using rough-cut, locally sourced hardwood.
The improvements continue. Come see what you’ve been missing! Visit www.natureconservancy.ca and then hit the trails at Backus Woods!
News from the Waterford Heritage Trail
Our trail donation drive on the August long weekend was a profitable venture. We raised around $350 and connected with many trail users. We gained some new members and volunteers and received an offer of free signage. We also learned a great deal about our trail.
We learned that people don’t carry much cash while using the trail. Not surprising. But some of the people we talked to returned later to make a donation. A couple from London gave us money and a lead on a mothballed bridge; a couple towing a child buggy told us our gate openings were easy to manoeuvre; and another couple showed us their high-tech reclining tandem bike. We received much praise for the WHT and the Waterford Rail Lands Redevelopment group and a few welcomed suggestions.
Overall, two things stood out the most. Many of the people we met believed that Norfolk County was footing the bill for our trail system. They were not aware that it was community volunteers who raise monies, organize, plan and maintain our trail. Our take home message was that we need to do a better job of explaining who we are and what we do.
And then there was Luc.
On the Sunday, a man stopped and straddled his bike while we were busy talking to other trail users. When we were done we approached him to explain what we were doing on the Black Bridge that day. He didn’t say much other than he was a local and was very upset at the amount of garbage along the trail and then he biked off. A half an hour later the same man, Luc, returned with $50.
In thanking him we discovered Luc is on the trail and the Waterford Ponds area most days. On those outings, Luc picks up garbage wherever he goes. He has never told anyone what he does; he looks for no thanks or praise. Luc just does it.
We’ve learned that there are other anonymous trail users helping out in their own kind ways. So it is not only the recognized community volunteers who are working on behalf of the WHT, there is a quiet community of Lucs out there helping make the trail a better place… so to all of you, a BIG belated THANKS.
Submitted by Frank Woodcock
Norfolk Pathways for People Members •www.norfolkpathways.ca
Joyce Flexman, Chairperson
Gord Mason, Trail Advisory Committee
Al Ladd, Community member
Ruth Loughton, Community member
Anne Wynia, Community member
Rob Luke, Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club
Dave Challen, Lynn Valley Trail Association
Ingrid Zyma-Irvin, Norfolk County Community Services Dept.
Janice Robertson, Long Point Region Conservation Area
Bruce Robinson, Community member
Frank Woodcock, Waterford Heritage Trail
Michele Crowley, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Dave Cameron, Community Member
Interested in becoming a member of Pathways for People? Contact Michele at 519-426-6170 Ext. 3239.
The Lynn Valley Trail Association: President’s Message
Many thanks are extended to the people who helped with the repairs to the Burt and Robinson bridges and the trail resurfacing from Port Dover to Simcoe. Work started in late July and was completed ahead of schedule and, as well, below the budgeted cost. The Ontario Trillium Foundation and Norfolk County were large contributors to this project as well as local businesses, service clubs and many individuals. We thank everyone for their support. Donors will be acknowledged at a short ceremony on October 20th, Silver Lake, Port Dover Lions Pavilion at 1:30 p.m. A donor sign will be unveiled, pictures taken and refreshments enjoyed. Please join us.
Norfolk County will be paving sections of the Lynn Valley Trail, the Norfolk Sunrise and Waterford Heritage Trail from DeCou Road to the 14th Concession. Sections will be closed from October 1st to November 3rd, but will be open on weekends. If you have any questions, call Mark Boerkamp at 519-426-5999 Ext. 2215.
I hope that you enjoyed the LVTA photographs and collages displayed at the Norfolk County Fair. LVTA sponsored once again a competition for our local students at the Fair. If you have any photos taken on the trail that you would like to share, please pass them along to us.
Fall colours are now emerging on the trail and it is a beautiful time of year for walking, hiking or biking. Recently several hundred elementary students utilized the trail for a cross country run. What a wonderful day for the trail. Hopefully all of us will have the opportunity to enjoy our local trails as they are splendid at this time of the year.
Submitted by Paul Beischlag, President
We have a new website! www.lynnvalleytrail.com
It’s that time of year again, and we urge you once more to support the Lynn Valley Trail with your memberships and donations.Interested in becoming a member? Just email Peter Munzar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need your E-Mail!
By sending newsletters and other communications by e-mail, we can ensure that your membership fees and donations go directly into trail initiatives. It will let us save a few trees as well. Just email Peter Munzar at email@example.com. Thanks for your help.
Annual General Meeting
Port Dover Community CentreThursday November 14, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.Guest speakers – Mark and Joanne Gamble – A Hiking Tour of Europe
See you there!
2013 LVTA Board of Directors
President, Paul Beischlag – 519-426-8591
Treasurer, Peter Munzar – 519-583-1101
Secretary, Mike Davis – 519-429-3323
Corina Bachmann – 519-428-8090
Barb Boyko – 519-583-3971
Dave Challen – 519-583-1090
Scott Fletcher – 519-426-6218
Dan Robinson – 519-428-2487
Diane Luke – 519-428-1385
Kerstein Mallon – 519-909-8993
Charlie Upshall – 519-583-9544