By Steph Crosier
Limestone gravel crunches underfoot as birds fly overhead and trees sway in the breeze. Walking down the Lower Trent Trail in Frankford most people are out for exercise or headed to the store in Frankford, including eighty-two-year-old Joyce Burr.
“I take the trail to walk my dog and come into town,” said Burr. “It’s good exercise.”
For Bill Gray, walking on the trail brings feelings reminiscent of hard work and dedication.
“I think I work harder now that I’m retired than I did when I wasn’t,” sad Gray. “I found that this is a labour of love.”
Gray is the chairperson of Friends of the Trail Inc, a not-for-profit organization made up of over 50 volunteers, that have built the Lower Trent Trail and is planning an extension to meet up with the trail in Trenton.
The approximately $45,000 new trail is planned to run along the Trent Riveriver just north of Glen Miller up to Batawa. The new trail will connect with the Lower Trent Trail and the other trails in Batawa. It is being planned with the Batawa Development Corporation, Friends of the Trail, Sacred Heart Catholic School, and Lower Trent Conservation.
Don Kuntze, councilor for Sydney ward in Quinte West, said a new planned trail would enhance living and encourage tourism to the area.
The public works department has given their support, said Kuntze, but it still needs to be approved by city council.
Bill Gray and Friends of the Trail will be giving a presentation to council November 13. An important part of the presentation will be the crossing area over Highway 33, an 80/km maximum highway.
“We’ve picked the straightest area of Highway 33 to cross and you can see about 500 metres in each direction,” said Gray. “The plan will be to go across that area, we’ll put a designated crossing area, and hopefully the town will put up a sign that says trail crossing on it.”
Principal Darcey French and his students at Sacred Heart have agreed to plant trees along the trail and said that safety is definitely top priority.
“Safety is always a concern for our students and the thing that we would have to look at is what are the procedures that need to be developed to get them safely back and forth across the road.”
Chris Angelo, director of public works for the city of Quinte West doesn’t think just a sign and a courtesy crossing will be enough.
“I don’t think so, but we haven’t seen any formal design decisions,” said Angelo. “Because the most important thing is certainly safety.”
Angelo and Kuntze said the city’s public works department is behind the plan as it meets the city’s 10-year strategic plan
“The plan already identifies that they need a new trail between Frankford and Trenton,” said Angelo. “I identified to the council that this is something they should be endorsing.”
The strategic plan has a goal to create a people/family friend municipality, to accomplish this one of the initiatives is to develop a trail network that links to other parts of the city. The initiative includes trails for motorized, cyclists, and walkers that will welcome residents and tourism.
“Because people don’t want to come to the area and just sit in a hotel and watch movies,” said Kuntze. “This will give them something to do outside.”
The city will not be paying for any of the building costs but once the trail is complete, Angelo said that the municipality would be in charge of maintaining it.
Gray said they are still waiting to hear back from the Ministry of the Environment to know if they will receive a $25,000 grant. Without it, Gray said they would need to do more fundraising or look for another grant.
Gray said Friends of Trail plan on starting the extension in spring 2013 and to have the grand opening in the fall.