Trails in Simcoe County
The Simcoe County area has a long tradition of blazing trails. First Nations peoples used trail routes to travel between villages and to conduct trade. Later on, colonial settlement established roads and railways, many of which followed original First Nations routes. Today, Simcoe County’s municipalities, its residents and various volunteer organizations remain committed to trails for their health, environmental, active transportation and cultural benefits to area communities.
Trails in the Simcoe area come in a variety of forms and functions. Some trails are managed by volunteer groups and are established with the consent of landowners along the route. These include the Bruce Trail and the Ganaraska Trail. However, most trails are owned by municipalities and other public bodies. They are either community trails (neighbourhoods, parks, etc.) or inter-municipal trails (rail trails, along major roads, etc.). With an area of approximately 4,800 km2 that includes 16 local municipalities, 2 separated cities, Canadian Forces Base Borden, First Nations lands, several provincial parks, and conservation areas, there are many stakeholders who have an interest in building trails.
Simcoe County Trails Strategy
As a result of the County of Simcoe 2008 Transportation Master Plan and the New Official Plan adopted in 2008, it was determined that there was a need for the County to take on a role to coordinate and support the development of trails and active transportation routes to help build a healthier and stronger County. To this end, the County of Simcoe has undertaken the development of the Simcoe County Trails Strategy to guide investment and development of a County-wide trail network. After much stakeholder consultation, the Simcoe County Trails Strategy was approved by Council and released in August 2014.
Trails Connecting Communities Program
The Trails Connecting Communities Program was established in 2009 to assist municipalities in funding trails and active transportation projects around the County. The program operates through a 50/50 matching structure whereby County funds are matched to local municipal investment, to limit of $30,000. The program is available to municipalities and trail organizations that partner with municipalities. Since its inception in 2009, the TCCP has provided over $750,000 in funding to local municipalities to assist in the completion of 32 trail and active transportation projects.
- Trails Connecting Communities Program 2021 application form can be found here.
- Trails Connecting Communities Program information sheet can be found here.
Accessible Trails Information Session
Municipalities will soon have new responsibilities for accessible recreational trails under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). On March 25, 2015 the County of Simcoe hosted an accessible trail design best practices and policy implications information session for local municipalities to provide municipal trail managers with an understanding of AODA regulations.
The event was facilitated by Patrick Connor of the Ontario Trails Council, with presentations by the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario and trail design experts from the MMM Group.
The event was sponsored by Healthy Communities Partnership Funding through the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
If you were unable to attend the Information Session please feel free to download a PDF copy of the presentations.