LINKED: How the dream of the Trans Canada Trail soars — and falls short

Here’s an article from Maclean’s about the “completion” of the Trans Canada Trail.  The milestone was celebrated at Village Square Park in Stittsville with a flag raising last weekend.  Our portion of the trail is a former rail line, converted to a gravel trail in the late 1990s/early 2000s, running from Bells Corners to Carleton Place. It remains designated as a municipal transportation corridor and could someday be repurposed for light rail.

To help celebrate what Trans Canada Trail organizers hailed as a big milestone, there was a scavenger hunt in Olds, Alta. A ribbon- and cake-cutting in Kenora, Ont. Family supper in Saint-Barnabé, Que. And a big concert in downtown Ottawa, with Governor General David Johnston hosting and former Barenaked Lady Steven Page singing about his old apartment.

Dozens of local parties dotted Canada to celebrate the coast-to-coast “connection” of the Great Trail, a recreation ribbon that stretches 24,000 kilometres. There was no Last Spike moment to mark this occasion, TCT officials say. Rather, the finishing touches would have more likely been by somebody at a desk, using keystrokes and mouse clicks to mark green lines over highways, and blue squiggles over rivers and lake shorelines, oft-paddled or not.

The cake- and Steven Page-worthy accomplishment was only achieved through some before-the-deadline replacements of various gaps with “interim” trail routes that may never actually get trail signposts, and where nobody may want to encourage people to cycle or hike, most notably on the narrow highway shoulders that temporarily count as much of Alberta’s contribution to this national project. The trail has been fully connected but it is not completed, something that gets mentioned occasionally on the trail foundation’s website, though the distinction was missed by myriad localnews accounts promoting the moment.

The national trail project initially launched in 1992, with a dream of finishing the trail in 2000. About a decade ago, the country’s 150th birthday was re-established as the new goal, and, somehow, the organization was determined to make it.

For much of the designated Great Trail between Edmonton and Calgary, the link is Highway 2A. It’s the narrow-shouldered secondary road between Alberta’s two metropolises, ranging from two lanes to four lanes, with more than 8,000 cars and trucks counted daily on some of the sections designated as trail. No signs designate this as part of the national recreation route, and the province has no plans to erect any.

Read the full article here…


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