Snowriders grooming Penetanguishene waterfront trail this winter

·2 min read

The Georgain Bay Snowriders will groom the Penetang waterfront trail for multi-purpose use giving seniors and all residents a winter recreation activity this year.

But arriving at that option took some work.

At a meeting last month, Mayor Doug Leroux had brought forward multiple requests around the issue that he had been receiving from seniors who cannot fly south due to COVID-19.

He had asked staff to look into the feasibility of having the trail plowed for maintenance.

However, staff came back with multiple reasons to not plow the trail going through the park.

One was the increased maintenance expenses, such as the disruption of grass and effects of continuous salt applications in the park. A second reason involved increased risk and liability, which would surface from a lack of sufficient drainage infrastructure leading to water freezing over the trail. And a third reason was that plowing the trail would make it hazardous for use by snowmobilers.

Leroux said he agreed with the reasoning brought forward by staff, as well as their suggestion to open up the trail to people.

"I'm told that with the Georgian Bay Snowriders grooming the trail, it will be hard-packed so it will become a multi-use trail," he said. "We're going to indicate it can be used by snowmobilers, pedestrians, for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

"The intent is to indicate this with proper signage at both ends," he added.

Coun. Brian Cummings pointed out that in addition to signage, it might be useful to inform the OPP of the increased utility of the trail for better patrolling.

"If it's going to be a multi-use trail, there are a few sleds that go through there a little bit quickly," he said. "We may need to monitor the traffic along that park."

But Leroux added: "Part of the signage would be indicating to snowmobilers to slow down and be careful of the pedestrians. I think our staff would also certainly look at the other aspect you pointed out."

Coun. Jill St. Amant said it would be useful to add a notification that indicates the trail is also available to use in the evening since it's lit from 4:30 to 11 p.m.

All of council agreed with staff's suggestion to ask the Georgian Bay Snowriders to groom their route over to the Trans Canada Trail and maintain it at a double-width to facilitate multi-use.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com