The gateway to a massive path between Toronto and Algonquin Park is set to begin with a summit scheduled for Nov. 3-4 in Haliburton.
Toronto-Algonquin Greenway (TAG) organizers presented that vision to the public in a presentation at the Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre Sept. 17. The Haliburton Community Cooperative committee seeks to create a new tourism destination through a massive cycling route joining the two locales using existing infrastructure.
Co-ordinator Pamela Marsales told the audience of approximately 20 people that the summit, which will invite partners from along the proposed route to Sir Sam’s Ski and Ride, will culminate in a new agreement to formally create TAG.
“This will become our founding, declared principles,” Marsales said. “Forevermore, in 10, 20, 50 years, people can look back at that moment in time and say that’s when Toronto Algonquin Greenway Alliance first started. It’s going to be pretty exciting.”
The committee based the project on models done worldwide. Examples exist connecting places such as Prague and Vienna and Florida to the Canadian border. Marsales said the groundwork is in place to make the route happen.
“Every part of the Toronto Algonquin Greenway it already exists, owned, managed, stewarded. Has public programming in place, it’s open to the public. All we’re doing is sort of stringing them together.”
The proposed route begins in Toronto along the Pan-Am Path, flowing into Rouge National Park and the York Durham Region. The Trans Canada Trail takes the route to Lindsay, flowing north from the Victoria Rail Trail into the Haliburton County Rail Trail. The project proposes to attract tourism to places along the route, with promotional material for each locale.
“All we’re doing is curating. We’re not managing a route,” Marsales said.
Audience members questioned how much municipalities will be willing to get on board and make improvements along the route. Marsales replied if groups band together, they can advocate to convince municipal leaders.
“We can help the powers at be to do whatever they need to do,” she said.
Haliburton Real Easy Ryders Cycling Club president Robin Bell said he thinks it is a great initiative but there is much work to be done.
“At the moment, we can’t really ride a bike easily on our own Haliburton County Rail Trail. If that’s the way it stays in the future, I don’t think many tourist cyclists would be interested in coming to ride here,” Bell said.
Although the TAG committee has not started promoting it as a destination yet, Marsales said work will soon be underway. She added the group will encourage municipalities to hire summer students to be trail ambassadors.
“We’re going to be taking steps to make this come to life,” Marsales said. “It will be a happening thing by next summer for sure.”