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Jan. 19, 2022 | Wednesday
Local News
New Heritage Trail proving popular walking destination
Marlene McCarthy and grandchildren Connor and Kaylee McCarthy enjoy a walk along the Upper Canada Heritage Trail with friend Linda Andres. (Evan Saunders)

The latest addition to the revamped Upper Canada Heritage Trail opened last week with an entrance on Charlotte Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Families say they've been enjoying the well-manicured trail and neighbours feel their concerns about clear-cutting were addressed.

Marlene McCarthy was out for a walk on the trail with her grandchildren Kaylee, 5, and Connor, 3, as well as her friend Linda Andres.

“This is great, they’ve done an excellent job,” Andres said.

Connor was particularly excited about all the squirrels he saw.

“One, two, three, six, seven eight squirrels,” he said rapid fire as his grandmother laughed.

The quartet were far from the only people enjoying the trail on Saturday morning.

“It’s beautiful compared to what it was. Amazing, a really lovely addition to Niagara,” Johnson Street resident Ellen Smith said while out for a walk with husband Bob.

Ellen expressed her gratitude for some of the recreational additions the town has made in recent years, saying she is particularly fond of the Voices of Freedom Park.

Bob’s not a big walker himself but said the new trail may “light a fire under me.”

Residents complained to the town last spring that workers had been liberal in their cutting of branches and bushes. They worried the new trail would infringe upon the privacy they’ve enjoyed in their backyards.

“The fear was they were going to make it like the lower part of the trail and clear a huge part of it,” Charlotte Street resident John Sitch said.

“But they were a bit more sensitive than that.”

Sitch's neighbour Don Recourt had the same worries.

“We were a little bit concerned that we would lose our personal coverage from the trees,” said Recourt.

Those fears were allayed once the finished product was presented.

“It’s great,” he said.

He wasn’t just satisfied that neighbours concerns were addressed but felt the trail was now usable for a wider range of individuals.

“I think it’s made the trail more inclusive for people. For quite a while it was mostly just locals walking through it and it wasn’t good for people in wheelchairs or anything like that,” he said.

“It’s better for everyone now.”

As to the cutting that was done, Recourt knows nature always finds a way. “It’ll fill itself in,” he said.

The cutting also made the trail safer for his dog,

“It was overgrown. We were worried about ticks and what not,” he said.

The trail was officially opened on July 27 with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Niagara Fall’s MPP Wayne Gates and federal MP Tony Baldinelli.

It rained on the parade but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.

“It keeps things moving,” Disero joked.

She said she was also worried about cutting down of trees to create the trail.

“My concern at the beginning was the removal of the forested area. But staff were able to talk with residents and determined that no trees would be removed that were healthy trees,” she said.

“At the end of the day it was a great exercise in working together and I am very, very proud of everyone that was involved in the project.”

There are several phases of the trail left to be completed. It now ends at East and West Line with the town planning to extend it all the way to York Road, once the funding is in place, Disero said.