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Great Lakes Waterfront Trail Named Ontario Trail of Distinction

Posted on July 31, 2017

Waterfront Regeneration Trust is honoured to announce that the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail has been recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) as offering the very best that Ontario trails have to offer.

Designated one of the five ‘Trails of Distinction” in the inaugural program, the Trail protects, connects, and celebrates the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes, serves as a catalyst for the regeneration of Lake Ontario, and is a much-loved and well-used fitness, recreation and tourism attraction. Other trails to receive this honour include the Greenbelt Route, the Trans Canada Trail Ontario, the Bruce Trail and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs Trans Ontario Provincial Trails. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail reflects the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s commitment to connect people to their Great Lakes waterfront, and engage them in making the waterfront a healthy and vibrant place to live, work, and visit. Its pathways, neighbourhood streets, and rural roads connect more than 114 communities and First Nations from the eastern border of Ontario to Lake Huron, including quiet countryside, forests, rocky shores, beaches, small towns and urban cities.

The long-term vision shared by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and the community partners is to create a trail that embraces all of Canada’s Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and the other Trails of Distinction are legacy routes that celebrate Ontario’s iconic landscapes and passion for the outdoors,” said Marlaine Koehler, Executive Director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. “The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is the culmination of 25 years of investment and co-operation among communities and First Nations, conservation authorities and many other partners” explained Koehler. “We are thrilled to accept the recognition on behalf of this partnership.”

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail was inaugurated by the Hon. David Crombie in 1995. At that time, the Trail was 275 km in length along Lake Ontario from Hamilton to Trenton. Since then, the Trail has gone through six major expansions to reach its current length of 2100 kilometres. The most recent expansion in 2016 connected Lambton County and Kettle and Stony Point First Nation to the Trail. This summer the Trail between Lake Superior (Prince Township), Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury will open.

The Waterfront Regeneration Trust host an annual supported cycling holiday, the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure. This year the seven-day event tours 550 kilometres of the Trail from Point Pelee National Park to the Rouge National Urban Park from August 6 to 12 (Water Canada editor, Katherine Balpataky will join the tour for a feature in the September/October issue of Water Canada magazine).

The 150 participants from all over Canada and the United States include Ajax Mayor Steve Parish, Sarnia Councillor Bev MacDougall and Keith Laushway Chair of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. They serve as part of an ambassador team meeting mayors and councillors in towns hosting the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure and will congratulate partner communities on the Trails of Distinction recognition.

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Photo: Cyclist from the 2016 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure. Credit: Waterfront Regeneration Trust.

Visitors planning to use the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail—whether for a few hours, days, or even weeks—will find inspiration on the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail website, which features interactive and downloadable maps, family friendly ideas, and itineraries for all types of riders, including the annual Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

As part of the Ontario 150 celebrations, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust is partnering with Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Ontario By Bike, and Share the Road Coalition to host 15 cycling events across Ontario and create 15 legacy cycling itineraries. All 15 cycling events connect with Ontario Trails of Distinction, including, the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, the Greenbelt Route, and the Trans Canada Trail Ontario.

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