Owen Sound is starting to use three infrared counters at various points of the city's recreational trail network to gather data on the number of users.
Adam Parsons, Owen Sound's manager of parks and open spaces, says they will be moved throughout the trail system regularly with the purpose of helping to inform city officials where to focus capital improvements and major maintenance.
The data will also be used to help update the Recreation Trails Master Plan in future.
"It will help us really target future capital planning on those areas that are widely used and serve a portion of the community," Parsons explains.
Owen Sound's recreational trail network includes many loops and routes from Harrison Park, to the Nine Bends Trail to the Tom Thomson Trail and more.
Parsons explains the technology being used is an infrared beam that simply counts when something interacts with it.
"There is no personalized data collected," Parsons assures. "It's an infrared eye that strictly counts each time someone, or something goes by the beam."
The city also has one infrared vehicle traffic counter to be deployed at different parking lots at parks. The total cost of the infrared counters is $3,000, Parsons notes. The expense was included in the approved trails capital spending program in the city's 2020 budget.
While some trails have closed during the pandemic -- such as those owned by Bruce County or area conservation authorities -- Owen Sound has kept its open for people to enjoy while respecting physical distancing.