The Free Press (Corowa)
Ride It, Walk It trail plan adopted
After more than 12 months of planning and community consultation, The Ride It, Walk It strategy has been formally adopted by Indigo Shire Council at last Tuesday’s monthly council meeting.
The plan aims to provide a strategic framework in relation to cycling, walking and horseriding opportunities such as paths/trails, infrastructure, events, programs and services in the Indigo Shire for the next 10 years.
It is hoped that the plan will see improved infrastructure usage and while having a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the community.
Locally, the plan would see the development of a winery loop trail around Rutherglen, a link from Wahgunyah to Rutherglen as well as a link to proposed trails in Corowa.
Five of the seven councillors endorsed the plan with Cr Roberta Horne and Cr Bernard Gaffney voting against adopting it.
Cr Horne cited safety concerns about trails and paths on private farmland and the implications it would have.
“While it sounds delightful to go for a walk or a ride in the countryside, the practicalities of inviting the general public into agricultural areas is fraught with danger,” Cr Horne said.
“We need to understand that a farm is a workplace, with heavy machinery, livestock and biosecurity issues. Lots of controls are needed in place to provide safety for workers and visitors along with their animals and native wildlife.
“Littering, vandalism, theft, fire, dogs, the use of alcohol and the general upkeep of the track are other very important considerations.”
Cr Gaffney also expressed concerns about trail riders accessing private land noting that landowners should not be held responsible for public liability issues.
“There were 22 submissions and in a lot of those were concerns about the potential impact on farmers and rural landowners and the access of private farmland,” he said.
“The submission from the Wahgunyah Progress Association talks about safety issue particularly with children, which have not been addressed.”
Deputy Mayor Peter Croucher supported the plan after careful consideration.
“I must admit I had my doubts about this project and thought goodness me, not another rail trail. My focus turned a little bit because it’s mainly about the health and wellbeing of the public of Indigo,” Cr Croucher said.
In summing up, Cr Larry Goldsworthy noted that the plan was about connecting and enhancing existing trails and providing safe places for the community to exercise.
“There are significant benefits in relation to health, financial and the public good. I appreciate the concerns raised but I feel they are slightly misguided.”