Stakeholders in the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail recently met in Plantagenet for their annual meeting. The trail has a positive path forward, but it depends on the future status of the land it is on.
Spokesperson Serge Joly said there is still no indication that the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) is going to renew its lease with Via Rail for the trail, which travels on a disused railway bed between Hammond and St-Eugène. The current lease expires in August, 2020.
“We’re going to need an answer,” said Joly.
The trail is operated as a not-for-profit corporation within the UCPR. The corporation wants to begin securing more corporate sponsorships for the trail, and Joly said that the lease renewal is important for obtaining those sponsorships.
Joly said the trail has continued support from the counties.
Devices that count the number of trail users are located in Vankleek Hill and Hammond. There were 6,373 trail users between December 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019.
The trail corporation has been developing, and will continue to develop partnerships with agencies and organizations to promote the trail to local residents and visitors to the region. Those partnerships include local school boards, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Prescott-Russell Tourism, Ontario Provincial Cycling Network and Ontario by Bike.
This year, the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail will enter an agreement to connect with the Vélo Route Voyageur, a 630-kilometre cycling route that goes from Ottawa to Sudbury.
Local plans for 2019 include CanBike bicycle safety training using the trail with schools in Bourget, St-Pascal –Baylon, Plantagenet, Alfred, Wendover, and St-Eugène.
The trail corporation is also hoping for progress on completely connecting the Prescott-Russell trail with the recreational trail network in Ottawa, and cycling routes in Rigaud, Québec.
Joly explained that there is still a three-kilometre gap between the end of the Prescott-Russell trail and the Ottawa network in the vicinity of Anderson Road. Discussions are taking place with the City of Ottawa and National Capital Commission to make a complete connection. Presently, trail users have to follow roads in the gap area.
It is seven kilometres from the urban area of Rigaud to the provincial boundary. However, the municipality of Rigaud has prioritized connection with the Prescott-Russell trail since 2017 due to other costs associated with flooding that affected the municipality that year, and again in the spring of 2019.
Serge Lalonde was elected as the new President of the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail Corporation for 2019-2020. The Vice-President`s position is vacant as no candidates would accept the nomination. René Baulne, who is also an Alfred-Plantagenet Councillor, is the new Treasurer. Serge Joly was elected Secretary.