Three gardens have been planted at entrances to the Upper Canada Heritage Trail, originally a railway route, another step toward making it a multi-purpose path for residents and visitors.
Tony Chisholm and Rick Meloen of the Heritage Trail Committee gathered a group at the John and King Street entrance Monday to celebrate the occasion, and to acknowledge the generosity of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society for their donation that paid for the plants and shrubs, chosen and planted by Town staff to enhance and beautify the three northern trailhead entrances of the trail. There has also been “a significant planting” of trees and shrubs at the John and Paffard and Charlotte Street trail heads, he said, with plant material chosen for easy maintenance.
In 2017, the NOTL Canada Sesquicentennial Committee identified improvements and enhancements to the trail as a priority which would leave a meaningful legacy for the residents and future generations of NOTL. Funds were raised selling pins and Canada 150 T-shirts, asking for donations at events, and from generous local donors. The committee decided improving the trail was a multi-year project that would continue beyond the scope of the Sesquicentennial Committee.
In 2019, the Heritage Trail Committee was formed to preserve and rehabilitate the trail, which follows the historic Erie and Ontario Railroad along Concession 1, said Chisholm. This was one of the first railroads in the province and was used for more than 100 years.
Meloen said there will be a “granular surface — not asphalt,” eventually laid along the 10-kilometre trail, to preserve a multi-purpose, all-weather terrain.
There are a few minor issues of encroachment by private property owners, but they are being dealt with, he said.
Before going any further with planned improvements, Town staff will put together a cost estimate for the remaining work to be done, following which a major fundraiser will be launched to pay for it, said Chisholm.
The committee of volunteers hopes to achieve more milestones to raise awareness of the trail and sustain its maintenance, to ensure it remains “an integral part of the active transportation system in NOTL, connecting communities and offering a superb multi-use trail for residents and visitors.”