The Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail wants more people to support the trail.  Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail Corporation Secretary Serge Joly said maintaining and increasing public support for the trail is important to make sure it can continue providing recreational opportunities to residents and visitors.  About two years ago, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) Council told the organization that the trail may not be able to remain open and reduced its share of funding.  The trail follows a former railway line, and although the tracks are gone, VIA Rail Canada, the federally-owned passenger rail service, still owns the land, which has been leased for the trail since 2001.  Joly said VIA still owns the trail property because of the long-discussed, but never implemented idea of developing a high-speed rail link in the densely populated Windsor Ontario to Quebec City corridor.  If the high-speed plan ever went ahead, the trail land could end up as part of a line connecting Ottawa to Montreal.

“They want to keep their options open in case,” Joly said about the railway still owning the land.  The current 10-year lease is up for renewal in 2020 and Joly said it’s also possible that UCPR could set conditions in negotiating a new lease that may not be suitable to VIA and could place the future of the trail into question.  UCPR currently hires a contractor to mow grass and weeds along the trail.

Joly said that with municipal election campaigns underway right now, it’s a good time for the trail corporation and for residents who support the trail to talk with candidates and ask them about where they stand on the matter.  Joly is hopeful that many residents would attend the trail corporation’s annual meeting on September 25.  It takes place at the Plantagenet Community Centre and starts at 7:00 pm.  Joly would appreciate it if anyone who plans to attend calls him first at; (613)837-9942 or notifies him by email at; [email protected]

An event taking place on September 29 gives everyone an opportunity to get out and enjoy the trail.  Randonnée Vert et Blanc; Célébration de la francophonie-ontarienne (Green and White Hike; a Franco-Ontarien celebration) is a fundraiser for the trail corporation.  Participants can walk or run for four to six kilometres, or bike for 13 to 19 kilometres.  The event takes place at the trail pavilion located at 647 County Road 9 in Plantagenet.  The six kilometre walk/run and 19 kilometre biking starts at 10:00 am and the four-kilometre walk/run and 13-kilometre cycling event starts at 10:30 am.  Organizers suggest that participants arrive 30 minutes early.  It costs $25 for adults 18 and over to participate, $10 for ages 13 to 17, and $5.00 for 12 and under.  A lunch is provided for all participants afterwards.  For more information and to register, call; (613)675-4661, extension 8109, or email; [email protected]  The September 29 event is also part of the Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail’s involvement with the CANBIKE program that teaches bicycle safety in local schools.  The trail corporation is also raising money by selling bottles of locally made wine from Vergers Villeneuve.  It will be on sale at the event on the 29 as well.

The first 54 kilometres of the Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail opened between Hammond and Vankleek Hill in 2006.  The trail is now 72 kilometres long and crosses all of Prescott and Russell.  It runs from Anderson Road at the Ottawa city limit in the west to St-Eugène in the east.  Serge Joly said efforts are underway to have the trail continue into Québec and follow the rest of the former railway line to Rigaud.