More improvements are coming to the Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign this year which saw the trail’s charitable organization, the G2G Rail Trail Inc., raise $185,000.
Executive director Doug Cerson says all of the money will go straight to the trail.
“We’re talking now about what we refer to as the G2G Experience. I’ve always stressed that the organization was developed to bring continuity to the 401 corridor and Lake Huron, which is the land between and then of course the natural rail trail link that has been converted into the different sections, the Kissing Bridge Trailway, of course going through Elmira,” Cerson said.
It’s been almost four years since they formed the G2G Rail Trail Inc. in order to facilitate communication between all of the communities and the trail steward groups. In that time they’ve raised just shy of $400,000, which includes a $135,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.
They used direct PayPal through their website, and two other platforms – Tilt and Generosity – to fundraise.
The 127 kilometre-long trail is now fully leased, so the big push is to satisfy the public’s demand to be able to bike the entire length of it. He says it’s all about connecting communities.
Many people would like to see a leveled, stone dust trail, such as stretches in Elmira and Goderich, across the whole trail. A lot of this year’s money will be focused in Perth County to groom sections of the trail that have been unused for 20 years.
“What we’re doing is we’re doing the ground prep, we’re cutting back all of the trees, cutting back the canopies and then pushing back the sides so we have that proper clearance on each side. And then we are running machines down the middle to be able to groom the original bedding and then we’ll invite our steward groups and our trail stakeholders to help to raise funds or to find sources of stone dust to lay down to give it the pretty factor,” Cerson said.
Cerson says the non-profit still believes in its grassroots approach of helping people on the ground in their communities. They’re not responsible for all of the projects like installing benches or parking lots.
“We are pushing really hard to help every community because some of these communities have had no steward groups. You might have stakeholders in the community, but if you didn’t have an official organization, you don’t have that leadership saying let’s go out and take this 10 kilometres and do something with it,” Cerson said.
They also are working to raise $3.5 million to replace three large bridges along the trail, two of which are in Waterloo Region.
He expects they’re about three years away from replacing the bridges. They have started the engineering studies for the Grand River bridge and the Conestoga bridge.
The G2G Rail Trail Inc.’s big events for 2017 are Spring on the Trail on May 13, the Canada 150th End2End Challenge on July 1 and the 100th International Plowing Match from Sept. 19-23 in Walton, which is being held just 500 metres from the trail.