Park­ing lot con­struc­tion be­gins for Sum­mer­stown Trails

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Pro­gram News Canada 150 Com­mu­nity In­fra­struc­ture

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

Staff The first phase of the con­struc­tion of a new park­ing lot at the trail­head of the Sum­mer­stown Trails For­est site is un­der­way.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Coun­ties of Stor­mont, Dun­das and Glen­garry, own­ers of the land on which the trails are lo­cated, once the to­tal over­haul of the park­ing lot is com­pleted next sum­mer, the new space, which will be able to ac­com­mo­date 44 ve­hi­cles, “will be larger, safer and more invit­ing for all for­est users any­time of the year.”

The ini­tial phase of the ini­tia­tive – the clear­ing and prepa­ra­tion of the land on the north side of the ex­ist­ing County Road 27 en­trance which has been des­ig­nated as the spot for the new lot – be­gan in mid-Au­gust.

This prepara­tory work is be­ing fi­nanced through the fundrais­ing ef­forts of the Friends of the Sum­mer­stown Trails (FOTST), the vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion that main­tains nearly 40 km of the cross-coun­try and snow­shoe trails in the Sum­mer­stown For­est.

The to­tal cost of the new park­ing lot is just over $66,000 – half of which is be­ing fi­nanced by a

grant re­ceived af­ter the FOTST and the Town­ship of South Glen­garry filed a joint ap­pli­ca­tion, through FedDev On­tario, in the spring of 2015.

Ad­di­tional costs of ap­prox­i­mately $22,000 are be­ing shared by the United Coun­ties and South Glen­garry town­ship.

Some ‘in-kind’ work, cour­tesy of lo­cal vol­un­teers, is also be­ing con­trib­uted to the project.

And while Trails and For­est stake­hold­ers are hop­ing the new park­ing lot will help to at­tract ad­di­tional vis­i­tors as well as pro­vide bet­ter ameni­ties for those who fre­quent the Trails, they are also op­ti­mistic that it will help curb delin­quent ac­tiv­ity which has taken place in the old park­ing lot – due in part to its se­cluded lo­ca­tion – for a num­ber of years.

Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to South Glen­garry coun­cil in De­cem­ber 2013, FOTST pres­i­dent Martin Bow­man ad­dressed the need for a new park­ing fa­cil­ity, point­ing out that the cur­rent lot is about two kilo­me­tres from the high­way and ob­scured by a thicket of trees, pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient cover for in­ap­pro­pri­ate and/or il­le­gal be­hav­iour to take place – such as the dump­ing of an­i­mal car­casses, con­struc­tion ma­te­rial and house­hold trash; and dam­age to the trails caused by the il­le­gal en­try of ATVs and large 4X4 ve­hi­cles.

“Some of the things that I’ve seen there, and some of the things that I’ve heard about over the years...well, the list is a bit shock­ing,” Mr. Bow­man said at the time.

Those sen­ti­ments were echoed re­cently by Vic Ler­oux, FOTST vi­cepres­i­dent.

“The park­ing lot, in its cur­rent lo­ca­tion, is an open in­vi­ta­tion to those who want to con­duct un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties away from the pub­lic eye,” said Mr. Ler­oux, who is also the South Glen­garry fire chief.

“The new park­ing lot will pro­vide a safer en­vi­ron­ment for vis­i­tors, and is seen by the FOTST as the next step in im­prov­ing the Sum­mer­stown For­est ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Tech­ni­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal sup­port for the park­ing lot con­struc­tion project is be­ing pro­vided by key part­ners such as the Raisin Re­gion Con­ser­va­tion and South Na­tion Con­ser­va­tion au­thor­i­ties, and the pro­vin­cial Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry.

The Sum­mer­stown Trails sys­tem at­tracts more than 4,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally and is used for a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties year-round, such as bik­ing, hik­ing, run­ning, bird-watch­ing, cross-coun­try ski­ing and snow­shoe­ing.

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