Turning a former rail bed into a trail for walkers, cyclists and others would prove a financial boon to the Coldwater area while promoting healthy living, proponents of the plan say.
“We want to have people visit the community,” said Marvin Wright, owner of an antiques shop in nearby Fesserton.
A six-kilometre stretch between Coldwater and Waubaushene is one of a few unfinished sections of the Trans-Canada Trail.
“It has been a gap for quite some time,” said Frieda Baldwin, a member of Huronia Trails and Greenways.
Local trail advocates are hoping Severn Township can tap into a $25-million federal fund earmarked for improvements and expansions to the country’s trail system.
Funding will go to projects that are set to break ground in 2009-10, said Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton.
“Certainly, the projects that are ready to go now are going to be favoured,” Stanton told an audience in Coldwater.
While supportive of the call for the trail’s development, Mayor Phil Sled said the local project is far from shovel-ready.
He said his municipality is working to ensure the former CN rail line does not pose environmental hazards before agreeing to assume ownership of the line, which extends to Orillia.
The rail bed, currently under the control of the Trans-Canada Trail System, was once bordered by railway stations, Sled added.
“We want it, but we want our concerns resolved,” he said.
Provincial and municipal governments will contribute funds to individual projects in partnership with the National Trails Coalition.
“Canada’s trails network helps us get to the heart of our amazing outdoors,” Stanton said. “It enriches the health and enjoyment of countless Canadians.”
Coldwater resident Jane Dunlop said other trails in the area regularly draw scores of visitors.
“It used to be that people would look for a golf course; now they look for trails,” she noted. “Everybody is on them.”
Sled said the township is scheduled to meet with representatives of the Trans-Canada Trail System later this month.