Simcoe County Has Big Plans For Newly Purchased BCRY Corridor
Simcoe County Council Committee of the Whole recently received information for discussion that, if approved by County Council, would see application made to the Province of Ontario for funding to create a connecting multi-use trail system between Barrie and Collingwood along the recently purchased Barrie-Collingwood Railway (BCRY) corridor that runs from Collingwood to Utopia. This proposed project would be consistent with the Simcoe County Official Plan.
The matter will be on the County Council January 23rd agenda for ratification. The Committee of the Whole report stated more work needs to be done to better understand what would be involved in taking on such a large project.
“Although there is currently no Council approval to fund the construction of a multi-use trail within the BCRY corridor, County staff thought it prudent to include this project for funding consideration under the OMCCP program. There is approximately $720,000 in potential OMCPP funding to construct a multi-use within this corridor should it be deemed appropriate to do so. More analysis is required to better understand the scope and cost of constructing a multi-use trail within the BCRY corridor.”
The total projected cost of the Barrie to Collingwood project is estimated to be $864,000.
Debbie Korolnek, General Manager, engineering, planning and environment, County of Simcoe says the new multi-use trail between Barrie and Collingwood enhance tourism opportunities for both the town and Simcoe County.
“This is a regional project that will see six different projects occurring throughout the County. The main purpose of this initiative is to encourage greater cycling commuter traffic to and from key labour markets, thus contributing to reductions in carbon emissions and encouraging active lifestyles for our residents. Furthermore, cycling tourism is growing significantly in popularity in Simcoe County and these trails will certainly contribute to enhancing our trail network throughout the region. Simcoe County Tourism has been very active in promoting our cycling programs beyond our borders and these trails will add to our impressive network county-wide.”
Korolnek says the funding specifies that projects are to be completed by 2020. Once County Council provides further feedback and approval to the recommended projects, there will be specific timelines released for each project.
Simcoe County Deputy Warden and Township of Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall says this substantial investment addresses many key lifestyle and community economic initiatives for the region.
“This is a tremendous investment in Simcoe County and by funding commuter cycling projects and enhancing tourism cycling opportunities, the County is supporting strengthened social, health and educational opportunities as well as economic and destination development opportunities. I know our residents, regardless of their home community, look forward to the edition of cycling commuter trails that can take them from Angus to as far as Collingwood or loop them into a larger network that forms the 165 km Simcoe County Loop Trail and Trans Canada Trail.”
Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper sees expanded tourism opportunities for Collingwood and Simcoe County.
Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper is excited about the proposed new trail, seeing opportunities to attract more tourism dollars locally, provincially, nationally and beyond.
“I see this as an important connection not only within the County of Simcoe but to the Trans Canada Trail system. It is an economic benefit as trail enthusiasts from Europe and closer to home look for lengthy kilometres of trail systems they can experience. Tourists will need accommodations, meals and perhaps rent bicycles. There is a health component and safe routes connecting communities through alternative transportation. Collingwood already boasts a world class trail system with over 72 kilometres of community trails. This proposed new expansion will enhance this system.
On behalf of the Town and the County, we applaud the province for investing in cycling and commuter infrastructure in our region. Our residents and visitors will benefit from the addition of new trails and networks that connect our communities throughout Simcoe County.”
Collingwood Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson says if County Council agrees to move forward with the application for funding, and if the Province grants the funding, construction work could begin on the new trail system this year.
“This would be great for Collingwood. It would increase the trail system, open another major tourist attraction and maintain the transportation corridor for the immediate and foreseeable future. The trail would be graded and covered in substrate to the same quality as the Georgian Trail between Thornbury and Stayner.”
The Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program (OMCCP) was established by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to provide dedicated funding to municipalities to support the construction and improvement of commuter cycling infrastructure.
The Province recently announced that the County would be eligible for $1,602,601 in funding towards the eligible projects.
The program receives proceeds from Ontario’s cap and trade program. The aim of the program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by encouraging people to cycle as part of their daily commute.
The County applied for OMCCP funding and was successful in obtaining $1,602,601 for six (6) commuter cycling projects across the County. Under the terms of the program, the Province will fund up to 80% of eligible project costs. The County has until December 31, 2020 to complete the projects
Debbie Korolnek says cycling and promoting active-lifestyles for Simcoe County residents are of top priority as outlined in many of the county’s strategic plans.
“These six initial projects were selected from previously identified initiatives in our Transportation Master Plan and/or were identified as they contribute to significant projects such as aiding in the completion of connecting the Trans Canada Trail – as is the case with the project on Snow Valley Road – and utilize existing assets and property already owned by the County. This is an exciting opportunity and we thank the province for providing this important funding and supporting active-transportation in Simcoe County.”