City looks to create trails master plan

Motorized vs non-motorized use of trails could be sticking point

By Kirk Winter

The city’s goal is to create a safe, accessible, connected, natural and maintained set of legacy trails.

As public consultations begin on a new trail master plan, it is already clear there are two very different visions for trail usage in Kawartha Lakes.

One vision is favoured by motorized users and one is supported by non-motorized users.

The city’s goal is to create a safe, accessible, connected, natural and maintained set of legacy trails. By March 2022, Kawartha Lakes hopes to have in place a trail master plan that will best use the 300 kilometers of public and private trails that currently crisscross the city.

Jenn Johnson, manager of parks, recreation and culture, told council that the new trails master plan will replace the original document that was first created in 2006.

“Our goal is to maintain, adapt, upgrade and develop the trails with a long term commitment to the system and with an eye on mitigating user conflict,” Johnson told council.

Johnson told councillors that public feedback on the trails plan has already begun through the city’s Jump-In platform, and they have had almost 60 responses.

Respondents were asked what barriers currently exist to increased trail usage and they were told that user safety, user conflict, weather and lack of lights for night usage were important issues that need addressing.

Johnson is hopeful that the motorized trail users represented by ATV, snowmobile, e-bike and scooter users can have a meeting of the minds with non-motorized users like hikers, cyclists, mountain bikers, leisure walkers, cross country skiers and snowshoers where everyone agrees that the priority is “a commitment to recreational mobility.”

Johnson said as part of the new master plan the city will be exploring new trail opportunities.

Councillor Doug Elmslie wanted to know how citizens could become more involved with this consultation process, and was told by Johnson that the Jump-In page is the best possible way at the moment.

Elmslie also asked if dirt bikers illegally utilizing trails are going to be addressed in the new master plan. A number of his constituents would like to see better enforcement of who should and should not be using the trails.

“The folks from Fenelon Falls have made us aware of that illegal usage,” Johnson said.

Mayor Andy Letham wondered if there is a steering committee people could join, and if there is already one, who is involved?

Johnson told the mayor there is a working group in place with members from council, parks and recreation, motorized users and non-motorized users.

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