It may be years away from reaching the literal end of the road, but residents are already anticipating the completion of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail’s reconstruction.
“We live on Line 7. We walk this trail all the time,” Rick Cairns said in an interview at a fundraising barbecue for the trail on Friday.
The improved accessibility of the trail is a boon for residents and visitors to Niagara-on-the-Lake as well as cyclists, he said.
“That’s the other thing, you can get right on that trail and bike right into town,” Cairns said.
It will be interesting for people to see the municipality from a new perspective once the entire trail has been revamped, he said.
“It’s really quite interesting because you have no idea what’s actually on this side of the trail,” Cairns said, referring to its path along Concession 1 Road.
“It’s surprising, because when you’re going on York Road you don’t picture the farms and the barns and the size of these properties. I always thought those properties on York Road were maybe an acre or something like that,” he said.
Reconstruction of the trail is now in Phase 2, the section from East and West Line to Line 2 Road. There are two remaining phases after that – from Line 2 to Line 9 Road and the final section up to York Road.
The work costs about $100 per metre, said heritage trail committee member and burger flipper Rick Meloen said.
At about 10 kilometres long, that equates to $1 million to complete the entire reconstruction.
It has been estimated that Phase 3 might be completed in 2024.
“Realistically, I don’t see it,” Meloen said.
“We’re hoping that the second phase will be done by the end of next year. So, by the time we get here it will be quite some time,” he said at Steffanie Bjorgan’s Concession 1 home near the end of the trail.
Bjorgan is well known for her work with the Red Roof Retreat but NOTLers may not be aware she is also an active member of the heritage trail committee and volunteered to host the barbecue on her property.
Unfortunately, Bjorgan was isolated due to a case of COVID-19 but her husband Moe was on hand to oversee the fundraiser. He said Steffanie was doing alright.
“The trail's right here and it’s not done yet so we gotta make sure we get the community out to ensure this doesn’t stop at East and West Line and that it comes all the way down and up the hill,” Moe said.
He and his wife and family have spent lots of time walking the trail and he said he is looking forward to seeing more people use it.
“We’ve got to get her used, get people out and get them healthy,” he said.
Meloen saw the barbecue less as a fundraising event and more of a chance to educate people on the project and state of the trail.
“It was a good day to get information out. A number of people that came here today were not familiar with Phase 3 or Phase 4. So, this was good. This was a really good idea that Steffanie had,” said Meloen.
He said the last section, which is the shortest stretch of the trail, will probably be the most expensive to rebuild.
“There’s a number of washouts. If you walk along there there’s a lot of (uneven) sections (of land),” he said.
“So we want to put some culverts in or maybe some bridges. Make it a bit level.”
Meloen said the goal is to make the trail accessible for the greatest number of people and that a level surface is essential to making that happen.
Several properties encroach onto the trail, a subject that people at the barbecue were eager to hear about. Meloen said the town is working with the private property owners to address those issues.
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report