August 15, 2013 (Windsor, Ontario) – The Waterfront Regeneration Trust, a charity dedicated to the completion, maintenance and promotion of the Waterfront Trail, today unveiled a 620 km expansion of the signed route across Lake Erie. The existing 780 km signed route that provides a marked path along the waterfront from the Quebec border to Niagara-on-the-Lake, will now run to Lakeshore Township just outside of Windsor.
The announcement was made at the Windsor trailhead of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, an annual seven day end-to-end fully supported cycling tour that attracts Ontario families and tourists from all over North America to explore Ontario’s Great Lakes waterfront.
The Adventure takes participants from end-to-end of the route’s Lake Erie portion, stopping in local communities to explore, shop and sightsee. Participants range from 13 to 74 years of age cycle an average of 60 to 100 km a day.
“We are celebrating the expansion by holding the Adventure for the first time on the Lake Erie portion of the Trail. We sold out two months in advance and have people participating from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Idaho, Maryland and Ohio,” said Marlaine Koehler, Executive Director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. “This week’s event is just a snap shot of the growing market for mass cycling and running events that are attracted to regions that have this kind of long-distance infrastructure. We are really excited for the potential of a Trail of this length.”
Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport Michael Chan MPP (Markham-Unionville) was unable to attend the announcement but sent his congratulations to the Waterfront Regeneration Trust as the lead Minister responsible for funding the expansion:
“The Waterfront Trail has proven to be a vital asset for visitors and residents alike who seek to explore and experience Ontario’s unique beauty and the communities that it runs through,” said Minister Chan. “With today’s expansion, 21 new communities will welcome tourists into diverse and distinct regions that showcase our history and culture while encouraging people to engage in active transportation.”
The Canadian Automobile Association is also doing their part to make it easier for people to explore Ontario’s waterfront. The Association is launching a new CAA Ontario Bike Assist app to help tourists and residents explore the Trail. It is currently available for Android users (coming soon to the iTunes store) and features routes and trails that have been deemed scenic and approved as safe to travel by CAA’s own Mapping and Research Specialists.
This is welcome news for James Burque, a cyclist from California, who has the goal of cycling all the Great Lakes. He represents the growing group of tourists who are exploring the continent on two wheels, presenting a huge economic development opportunity for communities situated on a path like the Waterfront Trail.
“Having a signed route that helps cyclists and tourists stay on course is an attractive draw for those of us who wish to explore Ontario’s countryside,” said Burque. “I hope that the Trail continues to expand across the Great Lakes so that I can keep coming back to achieve my goal and explore new parts of the province.”
The Trail isn’t just a draw for cycling enthusiasts, also participating in the Adventure are families. Honourary Tour Director and Essex Town Councillor John Scott, will ride the 620 km route on a tandem bike with his son and sees a huge potential for families to take advantage of the Trail for holiday excursions.
“Not only am I excited about the immense potential that the expansion of this Trail brings to Essex and other South Western Ontario waterfront communities,” said Scott. “I am really looking forward to exploring this beautiful landscape with my son to show him first-hand the wonderful natural assets in our backyard. This Trail is something that everyone can enjoy.”
Those interested in supporting the completion, enhancement and promotion of the Waterfront Trail can donate to the Waterfront Regeneration Trust by going here.