Following the installation of yellow caution tape to block entrances to several parking lots adjacent to access points along the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail, The Review has received the following information from the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR), which manages the trail.
Here is the message from the United Counties:
“Please note that the United Counties of Prescott and Russell had to close the parking lots of the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail in order to limit groups, as per provincial regulations. For these same reasons, we cannot recommend the use of the trail, as the law regarding pleasure boating also applies to trails. Should there be an emergency matter regarding a pedestrian on the trail, our Emergency Services are limited to attend to any person in need. We understand that these are unusual circumstances and apologize for any inconvenience.
Veuillez noter que les Comtés unis de Prescott et Russell ont dû fermer les stationnements du Sentier récréatif Prescott-Russell afin de limiter les regroupements, et ce, selon les réglementations de la province. Pour ces mêmes raisons, nous ne pouvons pas recommander l’utilisation du sentier, car la loi sur la navigation de plaisance s’applique également aux sentiers. En cas d’urgence concernant un piéton sur le sentier, nos Services d’urgence sont limités et il est difficile de venir en aide à toute personne dans le besoin. Nous comprenons qu’il s’agit d’une circonstance inhabituelle et nous sommes désolés des inconvénients que cela peut entraîner.”
In recent years, counties’ financial support for the trail has been reduced and mayors who sit on counties council are questioning the future of the trail, pointing out that several sections of the trail are not widely used.
The trail is located on the former rail bed, owned by Via Rail. UCPR leases the stretch of land that forms the trail — from Via Rail. The lease is set to expire in August 2020 and at the present time, there is no known information about the renewal of the lease.
Late last year, the only full-time employee of the trail corporation — the coordinator — retired and has not been replaced.
The Review reported earlier this year that the volunteers who are part of the Corporation du Sentier récréatif Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail were sharing numbers which they hope will convince the mayors who sit on the United Counties Council of Prescott-Russell that the trail is worth keeping.
Since 2016, the counties’ budget has reflected reduced spending on the 72-kilometre stretch of trail from $400,000 to just $139,000 budgeted for 2020. The 2020 budget is about $114,000 less than in 2019; the coordinator’s salary for 2019 represented about $70,000 of that amount. The full-time trail coordinator retired in 2019 and is not being replaced; instead, any administrative duties related to the trail will be absorbed into the counties economic development department. The $139,000 budget amount represents trail maintenance costs only until the end of August 31, 2020, when the 20-year lease with VIA Rail expires.
You can read that story here.