Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ontario Trails News - working on your behalf with the province to improve trails

Ontario Trails Setting Up Provincial Meetings

As an outcome of the Ontario Provincial election OTC has been working with the Capital Hill Group to draft a professional position paper about the OTC, what is can offer, and the role it would like to play in the future of trails with the Ontario Government.  
Not only is the aspect of OTC sustainability an issue, but matching funds for the National Trails Coalition program and we will be working with partners to encourage the government to develop mechanisms and processes to implement the following commitments from the Wynne Liberal Government:
OUTDOORS -  "The Wynne government recognizes that trails provide health, economic, tourism, environmental, social, and community benefits. That is why we developed the Ontario Trails Strategy in 2005, in collaboration with the Ontario Trails Council and other stakeholders. We have also invested more than $80 million since 2009 in support for trails.
 
Most recently, we have committed $3.56 million to the Pan/Parapan American Trails as part of our legacy strategy for the Pan/Parapan American Games.  This investment will include completing 254 kilometers of trail gaps along the Trans Canada Trail in Ontario.
 
In addition to these new investments, the Wynne government will continue to support the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund and the Tourism Development Fund. These programs, together with grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, will continue to provide direct financial support for trails."
  
ACTIVE LIVING -  Ontario Liberals recognize that participating in sport and recreation is vital to the health and well-being of all Ontarians, and that our trails play a key role. That is one of many reasons why we are committed to continuing and strengthening our support for trails by:
  • Establishing a stand-alone Trails Act, with complementary legislative amendments. The proposed Act would:
  • imbed the Ontario trails strategy in legislation;
  • proclaim a trails week;
  • allow eligible entities to hold trail easements;
  • allow for the recognition of trails of distinction and establishment of a classification system;
  • amend as necessary other legislation as necessary to deal with trespassing, occupier liability, fines and public lands issues; and
  • provide the Minister responsible with the authority to establish targets.
The legislation would be accompanied by an education and communications plan to increase awareness of our trails in collaboration with all trail partners.

The Wynne government will develop a trails tourism promotion plan highlighting specific regions and signature trails, and develop a research plan to better inform the decision-making process as it relates to trail development, management, promotion, and capacity.

ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION -  Inter-connectivity is critical in realizing the full value of trails as both recreation and commuter arteries. As emphasized in the #CycleON strategy, “Increasing cycling as a daily activity will require more bike paths, cycling routes and cycling- friendly transit connections.” The #CycleON strategy also emphasizes the importance of boosting inter-modal cycling connections as a key aspect in promoting cycling tourism. Quebec’s Route Vert is an ideal model for this.

The Wynne government will continue to work with the Ontario Trails Council in delivering a renewed Trails Strategy and associated Trails Act.

PROVINCIAL MATCHING FUNDING - Ontario Liberals see our Trails Strategy as being the best window through which we can plan and organize our trail infrastructure spending. We are not able to dedicate funds for trail infrastructure at this time. But we are committed to continued funding to key funds that support trail build out, including the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund, the Tourism Development Fund, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
 
Additionally, the Wynne government’s Plan for Ontario identifies our intent to designate and build 135 km of paved shoulders on provincial roads and highways over the next three years.
  
POLICY COORDINATION -  Better policy coordination is essential and would be achieved through our commitment to enact a stand-alone Trails Act and more frequent and regular meetings of the OTCC.
 
BUSINESS COSTS - The Wynne government’s proposed stand-alone Trails Act contemplates necessary amendments to other acts in order to address liability concerns, including allowing many trails to be designated for “lower standard” of care in cases that the landowner does not charge money for use of the trail and there is no pre-determined expectation of a certain level of maintenance. Ontario Liberals would also increase maximum fines for trespassing on private property off a trail.

TRAIL JOBS - The Wynne government is absolutely committed to working closely with the OTC and other stakeholders to maximize trails promotions: developing a trails tourism promotion plan for specific regions and signature trails, and developing a research plan to better inform the decision-making process on trail development, management, promotion, and capacity.
 
Our proposed Trails Act will also assist with trails expansion, by making it less burdensome for landowners to contribute to trail expansions.
 
This could include accessing the Tourism Development and Ontario Sport and Recreation Funds noted above, in addition to more effective coordination with and between Regional Tourism Organizations, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation, and municipalities.
 
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT -  As noted above, Ontario Liberals are committed to working closely with the Ontario Trails Council, and other stakeholders to maximize trails promotion. This would also apply to product development, and could include accessing the Tourism Development and Ontario Sport and Recreation Funds, in addition to more effective coordination with and between RTOs, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation and municipalities. The proposed Trails Act could also play a key role. *Note: this response is somewhat repetitive, as per above response*

WORLD CLASS EVENTS -  Yes, Ontario Liberals believe there are significant opportunities to promote trails, trail events, and innovative partnerships.