Group gets OK to blaze a 'new' trail along Midland's waterfront
The thing about hikers is that they’re known for going long distances to get where they need to be.
An update from the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association (GHTA) was brought to Midland council during the recent committee of the whole meeting, with a rare zero-cost ask – to blaze a trail along the waterfront which had already been approved by council back in 2013.
Frieda Baldwin, president of the GHTA, gave the update on behalf of the organization that consists of more than 100 members in the Midland chapter, with roughly 60 per cent of those hailing from Midland.
“We were waiting for other municipalities to have their ducks in order to be able to create a trail through Penetanguishene and Tiny,” explained Baldwin during her deputation. “That is now moving forward, so we would like to ask, again, your approval to proceed with what we had intended to do, which is to create a trail along the waterfront of Midland.
“It basically consists of blazing the trail of what is already there. We are not creating anything new; we’re just putting paint marks on poles, to show our hikers where the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is.”
The hiking trail originated in the early 1960s for naturalists to enjoy unspoiled lands across the province, and by 1968 the Ganaraska hiking trail was officially opened from Port Hope to Lindsay. Shortly after, more sections were added to the overall coverage.
However, the trail was never fully connected in its Simcoe County portion. The western trail ends at the Tay Shore Trail beside Sainte-Marie among the Hurons outside Midland, while the eastern trail ceases at the Tiny Trail and Conc. 12 E. junction in Tiny Township.
Baldwin had made a recent request to Penetanguishene council for their approval in the proposed connection that would connect both ends of the gap, which was granted in mid-April. Additionally, construction of stairs in the Tiny Township portion of the trail was scheduled to occur in the coming months.
Its path through Midland would start at the east side from the Wye River where it connected to Tay Township, travelling westward through the paved Rotary Waterfront trail until Pete Pettersen Park where it would continue along the narrow path of Harbourview Dr. From there, it would follow the Mid-Pen link and connect at Murray Rd. in Penetanguishene.
Committee of the whole members were in general approval of the request. Coun. Beth Prost stated she saw no reason to say no.
“I think this would be great for bringing people in and even giving people more knowledge of the trails and how far you can go,” Prost added.
Mayor Bill Gordon also expressed that there was little sense to leaving an already-approved gap in place for those wanting to explore North Simcoe.
“Good for you for persevering – following up with Tiny and Penetanguishene – and closing your own gap in getting this thing done,” said Gordon. “The cost to Midland: nothing. That’s a rare ask; that’s fantastic.”
Gordon additionally noted that since the COVID-19 pandemic, importance on outdoor recreation space emerged with the active transportation of the town’s trail systems.
“I wholeheartedly support this. Let’s get that white paint on the map showing that there’s no contiguous issues with Midland.
The other aspect of Baldwin’s presentation was a side-mention of the GHTA cleaning up Pete Pettersen Park, which gained more praise from council than the request for the trailblazing itself.
Coun. Jamie-Lee Ball and Catherine MacDonald, as well as Gordon, all shared their appreciation for the volunteer group to clean the trail in that area.
“There’s a bunch more… that we’re working on,” Gordon informed Baldwin. “We’ve got photos from folks, and some of it is hazardous; you need to be careful because of sharps and other refuse. We’re having that cleaned up.”
One point raised by MacDonald was in regards to a comment made by Baldwin that the multi-use trail along Harbourview Drive was less than ideal for that specific part of the path, asking Baldwin for further clarification.
“Once people are familiar with our blazing, they will find a way from Pete Pettersen Park to the beginning of the Mid-Pen Trail,” responded Baldwin. “They will see the white blazes on posts, and so on.
“The path that is there now is very narrow and really should be widened. It’s not very safe. I’d like to see the town… put an effort into making it wider so it becomes a real multi-use trail that is properly marked.”
Council meetings are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca