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Millennium Trail upgrade shovels in the ground

Story and photo by Sharon Harrison
On a portion of the Millennium Trail near Lake Street in Picton, volunteers came with shovels and spades in hand – including a gleaming gold one – but mostly they came with smiles and joy that upgrades to the trail are under way.

The informal outdoor ceremony included a few short speeches and an acknowledgement of thanks to the many who have worked to reach this point.

Lead by Patrick Maloney, Chair of the Prince Edward County Trails Committee, volunteers gathered Tuesday morning to ceremoniously break ground – declaring the official start to the Millennium Trail Upgrade Project. Maloney was joined by PEC Trails Committee members, the Ad Hoc Committee, Friends of the Millennium Trail, as well trail users, supporters, volunteers and a few dignitaries.

“It’s also a chance to thank a lot of people and really an event that is all about volunteerism,” said Maloney.

He added that the history of the old rail bed line goes back to 1997 when the municipality took ownership. Next, the Wellington Rotary Club addressed 11 kilometres of the trail and over 2016 and 2017, council approved a $450,000 three-year project to re-build the trail.

“In 2017, fundraising began and the target that we committed to with the Prince Edward Trails Committee was $80,000. We have raised $120,000 to date and there is still a bit more money coming in,” he said.

The municipality put the project out to tender, with bids coming in significantly higher than anticipated and also not acceptable to the Trails Committee. Subsequently, an ad hoc committee was formed with council agreeing to go ahead with a model that would see municipal staff work with volunteers, lead by Barry Davidson.

“Nothing works without Barry, he’s a cornerstone,” said Maloney. “His work with the Wellington Rotary and council and staff and that commitment to say we can trust that you made it happen one time before, and we can trust that you can make it happen again.”

Work, he said, came into Bloomfield that morning, “so it’s surfaced from Wellington from Bloomfield, 5.25 kilometres to be exact,” said Davidson.

“It’s really been incredible. It’s great to celebrate volunteerism. It’s really what a dedicated group can do for many and we see that all through the County,” added Maloney. “We call the trail a linear park and I think the opportunity we are going to see is a growth of users on in, recreation transportation and really we all know that it’s going to benefit the County.”

PEC Trails Committee VP Vincent de Tourdonnet agreed the volunteer effort being led by Davidson is “incredible”.

Barry Davidson with the roller set on “vibrate”. He passes over the trail three times to make it hard. – Millennium Trail group photo

“Barry is co-ordinating these massive dump trucks that are dumping limestone along the trail at a depth of six inches and then actually Barry is driving the steam roller to flatten it out. He is personally doing that.”

Former MP and Minister of Agriculture, Lyle Vanclief was in attendance representing MP Neil Ellis Tuesday morning.

“I know with all my years as a Member of Parliament for this area, a lot of stuff got done. It takes different levels of government, but if you want to get something done well and done on time, then that’s where the volunteers come in,” said Vanclief. “We in Prince Edward County are blessed with incredible numbers of volunteers.”

Bloomfield councillor Barry Turpin represented Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff.

“It is my honour and privilege to welcome you all here today to officially open the trail,” said Turpin. “This has taken probably a little bit longer than we would have liked, but we truly have the shovels in the ground and nobody could be happier than everybody that’s here because it’s going to come to fruition.”

Turpin said the project promises to deliver an outstanding recreational amenity to the community and is going to be very well used.

“Communities have embraced this project and people can clearly see the benefits of all these things,”

He added that projects like this don’t work unless you get a lot of people to volunteer and get behind it.

“If you just say to the municipality, can you just fix that church or that town hall and make it nice for us to use, it’s not going to happen. If you get a group of people that say we need this and we are willing to work at it and willing to work with the municipality, it gets done.”

Turpin praised the volunteers from the fundraising to the working stage.

“It wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and the work that you’ve got to do. PEC Trails has stepped up to make this a reality. They’ve raised the money, they’re working with the ad hoc committee and it’s a new way to go.”

Further clearing of the trail needs to be completed with some of the overhanging brush and branches to be removed.

-Millennium Trail group photo

Sixteen volunteers came out to the last brush party and de Tourdonnet is hoping for 30 for the next trim event to be held Sat. Sep. 29. beginning at 10am (rain date Sep. 30) at the trail at 4 Lake Street (parking lot behind the LCBO in Picton). If you have tools (loppers, clippers, pole pruners, etc.) bring them, or they will have spares to borrow. There will also be a workshop to show people how to sharpen tools if yours are blunt (come at 9.30am if you need sharpening). Further information can be found at the Millennium Trail-Prince Edward County Facebook page.

 

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