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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Draft Trail Plan For Grey County Complete

Grey County | by Claire McCormack  

Staff have presented what they plan to do with local trails over the next 12 years.

Grey County has a Draft Recreational Trails Master Plan for the next 12 years.

Council has yet to approve it, but it was supported by Grey County councillors when presented by staff.

In response to public input, County planning staff suggest improving parking availability, adding and updating signs to include types of permitted trail usage and other details, working with law enforcement to encourage respect of the trails, expanding accessible trails and information about the County's trail inventory to include details like length and difficulty.

Staff also recommend developing user friendly trail maps to be posted on the County's website and consider coming up with a Grey County trail guidebook and even an app along with working to brand Grey as a significant outdoor activity destination.

Planners also suggest looking at development plans and the possibility of creating linking trails in new developments and school areas.

They recommend the creation of Adopt A Trail Programs or possible Friends of Forests groups.

Staff want to create a list of priority trails that need attention from maintenance to adding infrastructure like bridges or gates.

During the public input part of the process, residents expressed concern about the incompatibility of motorized and non-motorized vehicles.

The draft plan allows for All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) on the CP Rail Trail from Dundalk up to Grey Road 18 from Sunny Valley Road, and side-by-sides on the CP Rail Trail up to a maximum width of 54 inches (the current max width of ATVs allowed on the trail).

In the plan, County staff suggest looking at opportunities to allow ATVs in some County forests, and note there might be opportunities for use of old logging roads that aren't used by non-motorized trail users. Staff also stress the importance of restrictions for ATVs and Side-by-sides, stating" Generally motorized uses are not considered compatible with passive and non-motorized recreational uses."

If the plan is adopted by council, County staff would meet with ATV clubs about it early in 2020.

Public feedback highlighted a desire to protect the natural environment, name Grey's forests on a tourism map instead of having numbers, and consider adding more trails.

Other suggestions in the draft plan include a hotline to report abuses of trails, a trail user fee, and improve trail gates to restrict illegal access.  

It has also set out criteria for making requests that staff say will make that process go a lot faster.

The county budgets $10,000 to $20,000 a year for trail work.  

Staff note, on top of getting people out of cars, trails offer benefits like promoting  active living for hiking, biking, riding horses, running, snowshoeing, ATV riding, experiencing nature and the economic benefits of tourism.


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