Plan for West Royalty trail looking for public input

·3 min read
Upton Farmlands has a popular off-leash area for dogs.
Upton Farmlands has a popular off-leash area for dogs.

(Sally Pitt/CBC - image credit)

A public meeting will be held on Feb. 24 to discuss the possibility of a West Royalty active transportation trail that would involve the Upton Farmlands.

The community group looking to move the idea forward is trying to connect the Confederation Trail in the north part of the district to the south at Beach Grove Road.

MLA Gordon McNeilly, one of the organizers, said Capital Drive between Charlottetown and Cornwall kind of splits the district.

"We're trying to make sure that we can flow naturally and actively from one area to the next and allow people to access that and be more healthy and get active," McNeilly said.

He said it is also in line with provincial goals around active transportation.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

One of the areas that the proposed trail would have to cross would be the 150 acres of land known as the Upton Farmlands.

It is owned and managed by the Upton Farm Trust Inc., which says it has not yet been formally involved with the proposed plan.

"While the abstract idea of an active trail is something that we're all very keen to see more information on, the trust has not yet approved anything," said Heidi Hyndman, president of the board for the trust.

"We haven't seen anything to approve."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Decisions around the land would also have to be approved by a technical advisory committee of the Natural Areas Protection Act of P.E.I.

Hyndman said any proposed plan would be looked over by the trust. If it was something they were interested in, they would then send it off to the committee who would go over the plan in great detail.

There are lots of environmental considerations as well, Hyndman said — from the wetlands and hedgerows to the thousands of new trees that have just recently been planted.

And then there is the off-leash area that is used by many people in the greater Charlottetown area.

Hyndman said she's heard concerns from dog owners since a promotional video showed the trail potentially running through that off-leash area.

Sally Pitt/CBC
Sally Pitt/CBC

She said she has been reaching out to the Facebook group of roughly 1,400 members to reassure them that the trail will not be going through the off-leash area.

"They love this park more than anything and the off-leash area is a prized jewel of Upton, as is the rest of Upton," Hyndman said.

"We would love to see more people use the property and if a trail becomes part of that, that would be wonderful. It just needs to be done very carefully."

Still in planning stage

McNeilly said they are looking at protecting Upton for the future and making sure people are active on the piece of property.

The public meeting will be held at the Benevolent Irish Society on Feb. 24.

Due to public health restrictions, it will have a hard limit on the number of people allowed in, but McNeilly said they are planning to stream it so more people can take part.

"Your voices are important and we have to come together to make sure that we do this right and this is the time to do it," McNeilly said.

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