'Tiny Animals' create a game to make walking on Tiny Trail more fun

·3 min read

Animals are taking over a part of the Tiny Trail this winter.

And wild animals live alongside the trail throughout the year, these ones are tiny and they're hand painted on pieces of wood sized 8X8.

Marj Dubeau, a township resident, brought the idea to committee of the whole at its recent meeting.

"This spring, when everybody was looking for something safe to do, my neighbour and I started chatting," she said. "(We) were looking for something that was COVID-friendly to do. (So) my neighbour's daughter painted a bunch of signs to put up along the trail between Balm Beach Road and the 9th Concession."

At that time, Dubeau said, staff opposed the move and she and her friends had to take down the signs.

However, she's now asking council's support to put the signs back up to add fun to people's walks on that section of the Tiny Trail.

"There are about 26 signs," Dubeau said. "We'd just installed them along the trail so they could be seen on the trail. We just need permission to put them up again. We did have a Facebook page that told people to take a picture if they spotted any of the animals."

She added that because the signs are easily visible while walking on the trail, there is no need to go off the path. As well, Dubeau said, there's a marker announcing the signs and asking walkers to look for the animals and take photos to share on Facebook.

Interim CAO Tim Leitch told councillors why the signs were taken down at the outset.

"They were originally taken down because of the infancy of COVID," he said. "We were trying to make sure to manage our public property to minimize the spread."

Leitch said he could see that the signs were very engaging for trail users.

"We're not against having these," he said. "We need to make sure we manage them through our different departments on public property. We would encourage individuals to work through the township. It makes sure we vet these things to make sure they're appropriate and safe and can be organized and get the benefit we saw from your idea."

Dubeau said she'd seen similar additions to other parts of the trail, "maybe not as permanent, in paper and plastic bags. So we kind of liked this idea because it's more sturdy."

Coun. Cindy Hastings said she recalled seeing the 'cute' signs, but at the time they were posted, the municipal trails weren't open because of lack of information around COVID-related restrictions on using the trails.

"We know much more now," she added.

Mayor George Cornell was also very supportive.

"I think the timing wasn't great, but I would encourage that we send these to staff so we can coordinate these activities," he said.

Engineering manager Jean-Francois Robitaille pointed out that that particular stretch of trail is also used by snowmobiles.

"You want them placed on a snowmobile trail, would you be open to moving this to the Penetang side of the trail where snowmobiles aren't allowed to go?" he asked Dubeau.

She said she was okay having them in the same area.

"It's kind of home here," added Dubeau.

Hastings thanked Robitaille for pointing that out and added that hopefully everybody can work together during the season.

The request was approved at council later the same day.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com