Jeff Green | Jul 11, 2018
As reported last week, construction on the K&P trail has cost more and taken longer than anyone thought it would and will require a new infusion of cash, and some careful engineering as well.
And once it is done, the section that is currently flooded out will require a long-term beaver mitigation strategy.
These last sections must be finished in order for there to be a Frontenac loop as part of the Great Trail (aka Trans Canada Trail) that runs 15,000 kilometres across Canada between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
If Frontenac County had not made the commitment to complete the K&P trail between Harrowmsith and Sharbot Lake, The Great Trail could have run directly along Highway 7 between Sharbot Lake and Glen Tay. If that had happened, not only would the K&P trail not have been part of the Great Trail, the Cataraqui Trail would also have missed out.
There would have been two set of losers if this had happened. Frontenac County would have been bypassed by the national trail network, and trail users would have missed out on the Frontenac spur as it meanders between the Canadian shield and the limestone substrate.
Being included in the Great Trail may or may not make a major difference to the economy of Frontenac County over the next 20 years. But we do know that Frontenac County, which has been struggling to establish its identity, would have literally been off the map once again.
When Frontenac County Council meets this month, there could be a couple of proposals on the table to finance the last section of trail. One will be to shuffle some infrastructure grant money around, another might be to borrow from reserves or the low interest Infrastructure Ontario program, or the money could come from taxation.
Any time spending money on developing the K&P trail comes up at county council, there is grumbling that the trail is only relevant in parts of Frontenac County, but everyone has to pay for it.
The K&P trail is, however, a piece of Frontenac County infrastructure, an asset, just as the Fairmount Home and the Sydenham and Robertsville ambulances bases are assets, and we all pay to build and maintain these assets from time-to-time.
In ten years and twenty years, the trail will still be bringing people into Frontenac County. Hopefully we will be making good use and good investments in our other assets, in our lakes and our parks and our quirky communities, to provide them with enough to do so there will be a viable tourist industry here to augment our local economies.
The cost of the trail, the difficulties involved in getting it built, the mistakes that were made, will fade into the past.
The decision to build the trail was a good one. The implementation of that decision was flawed in various ways. But the project is coming to completion and the trail will be something we all own together.