FREDERICTON, N.B. – A fully-connected Trans Canada Trail, one of the most ambitious projects in Canadian history, should be complete by 2017 according to Jane Murphy, national director for the Trans Canada Trail.
Murphy told delegates attending the Transportation Association of Canada annual conference that the goal is to have the remaining 6,200 kilometres open in time for Canada's 150th birthday on July 1, 2017. The development of the national trail system has been ongoing for more than two decades.
“When complete, the Trans Canada Trail will stretch 23,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific and the Arctic Oceans, linking 1,000 communities and all Canadians,” Murphy said. “It will be the longest and grandest recreational trail in the world.”
In 1992, the idea was formulated to take the historic routes, paths, waterways, rail lines and roads which wind across Canada and join them to form a national recreational trail. Today, the trail is 73 per cent complete and is accessible to 80 per cent of Canadians. Millions of visitors visit the trail each year, contributing to economic activity, jobs, healthy living and green development.
“The trail is attracting growing national and international attention as a must-visit recreation and tourism destination,” Murphy said. “It offers a unique way to experience our diverse landscapes, history and culture. It has captured the hearts and minds of Canadians from every region and every walk of life.”
Murphy said the development of the trail is one of the largest volunteer projects ever undertaken in Canada. More than 100,000 volunteers have contributed time, energy and resources. More than 400 local trail groups, municipalities and conservation authorities have helped fundraise, build and manage local sections of the trail.
Along with private sponsorships, the federal government has been a major supporter of the trail for many years and recently donated $10 million through Parks Canada.
Another $150 million is needed to finish the trail by 2017. As fundraising continues, work on the trail is progressing. However, Murphy said there are still more than 200 identified gaps in the trail, ranging from urban connector links to rugged wilderness. Some require major engineering and construction to overcome rugged terrain, while others require thoughtful design to protect environmentally-sensitive areas. A detailed connection strategy has been developed to integrate and finish the trail from coast to coast.
Murphy encouraged the association delegates to visit the trail where they live, take advantage of what it has to offer for walking, hiking and biking, or get involved in helping complete the trail through volunteering or financial donations.
“The trail is a national treasure,” she said. “Once complete, it will be a lasting gift to Canadians for Canadians. We have a challenge ahead, but we will do it.”
The Transportation Association of Canada is a not-for-profit, membership-based group which serves as a neutral forum for exchanging ideas, information and knowledge on technical guidelines and best practices in Canada's transportation and road sectors. The association also promotes the importance of transportation to Canada's economic and social well-being as well as safe, secure, efficient and environmentally and financially sustainable transportation services.