In 2017, when the restoration of what was then called the Upper Canada Heritage Trail was first discussed as a 150th legacy project, Steffanie Bjorgan was quick to get involved.
At that time volunteer Tony Chisholm, now vice-chair of the project, led a group hike along the trail to view it and discuss efforts to rehabilitate it and enhance public awareness of the beauty of the trail.
Although Bjorgan stepped away from the town committee for a time, she has followed its progress, and has rejoined, anxious to see it completed.
Five years later, much work has been done, both on rehabilitation and the public awareness component, and Chisholm is ready to kick off the next phase of trail restoration, with an Earth Day celebration to mark the occasion.
The Heritage Trail restoration continues along the old railway bed from East and West Line, heading south and ending at York Road near the villages of Queenston and St. Davids, says Chisholm. Phase two is the section along Concession 1 from East and West Line to Line 3.
The trail’s accessibility and prominence has been compromised by years of disrepair, overgrowth of foliage and erosion. The town is committed to the restoration project to support trail improvements, enhancements, and infrastructure repair.
The committee plans to bring the Heritage Trail back to a state that will support eco-tourism, walking, cycling, and community engagement, says Chisholm, “The plan is to reconnect the trail as a side trail to the Bruce Trail, at the same time connecting three different communities in Niagara-
on-the-Lake.” With the first phase successfully completed to East and West Line, the Heritage Trail committee is beginning to fundraise for the next section south.
The cost of creating a proper trail through this section of phase two is about $160,000 or $100 per metre. The committee is hoping for donations of $100 (or more) to cover the cost of restoring one metre (or more) of this trail during phase two.
Bjorgan has offered to host a free barbecue luncheon and information session at her Concession 1 home, with the Heritage Trail on the other side of the road. It’s a very different trail than the portion of it that begins in the Old Town, she says.
“I’m hoping the barbecue will get people here to see the other part of the trail, in a rural area instead of the Old Town.”
There are some concerns about what is needed to restore it, and residents can come for the barbecue, take a walk along a bit of the trail, have a look at it and ask questions, she says.
“Earth Day is a great time to connect with people, after two years of a pandemic and little opportunity for fundraising,” she adds. “Coming out for a simple barbecue may renew interest in the trail, and get people to see it beyond the Old Town, enjoy nature and avoid negativity on a beautiful day.”
There is no charge for the lunch, but donations are welcome, and hopefully it will be a good day to get outside, with no rain or snow, she says.
The barbecue and information station are at 404 Concession 1, where it ends at Line 9. The time is 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.