G2G Trail hosts annual barbecue, meeting in Blyth - July 20, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
G2G Inc., the group behind the Goderich-to-Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail, held its second annual barbecue and general meeting in Blyth this year, attracting dozens to the meeting last week.
The Blyth Lions Club was on hand to serve hot dogs to those in attendance ahead of an update on the trail and a handful of guest speakers, although intense rain threatened to ruin the evening, which was held along the Blyth Greenway Trail.
The informal barbecue and information meeting was first held last year in Milverton, hosted by Joel Phelan. Phelan, who is one of only a handful of people who have cycled the trail from end to end, said that last year’s gathering did wonders for the trail. The meeting served to send information out to members of the public and to educate potential users of the reality of the trail.
Doug Cerson, executive director of G2G Inc., opened the meeting, welcoming those in attendance and thanked Blyth representatives for welcoming the group of trail proponents to the community.
Cerson said he was happy to report that significant progress had been made along the trail in the last 12 months. The trail is now officially open from end to end with a minimal amount of short detours – off the top of his head Cerson said there were five detours along the route he could think of.
He also said that the group is hard at work improving the trail experience and constructing bridges to reduce the number of detours necessary.
Cerson also marvelled at the number of volunteers who are working on a regular basis to help bring the dream of the trail to fruition. He said that while those who regularly attend G2G events know people like Chris Lee, Paul VanderMolen and himself, there are between 300 and 400 volunteers from end to end on the trail who have been working to make the G2G happen. That group varies from service clubs like the Lions in Blyth or Milverton to property owner volunteers along the way to Doug and Lynda Wilson, who were in Blyth that night, who were among the first to travel the trail from end to end.
Lee said the online mapping of the trail has also been coming along well. The mapping has been a great tool for the trail and the most difficult aspect of the process, he said, has been keeping it updated, as progress is being made daily on the trail.
The next two large projects, he said, will be the installation of the Blyth Brook bridge, which was funded with the help of Huron County, and the installation of a number of access-point gates along the trail.
Lee also heralded the accessibility of the trail, saying that users with many different needs will be able to use the trail once completed.
On that note, Lee said, volunteers are working towards the trail being the first-ever active transportation corridor to bring visitors directly to an International Plowing Match (IPM) site. In September, he said, there will be shuttles that will bring those who hike or cycle along the trail from the Walton trailhead to the IPM site at Jack Ryan’s farm just south of Walton.
Furthermore, Lynne Godkin, secretary of the 2017 IPM committee, told the audience this year’s IPM will be the first-ever fully-accessible match and the G2G Rail Trail will play a big part in that. The organizers have appointed an accessibility committee for the match, which is being chaired by Seaforth’s Charlene O’Reilly, the daughter of George and Ruth Townsend.
Doug Scrimgeour, chair of the Blyth Greenway Trail committee, also spoke, saying he and the committee have been working on the trail for nearly 25 years to provide an active transportation trail to Blyth.
It was Scrimgeour and his wife Diane Radford who first envisioned using the abandoned rail bed for a trail through the Blyth area and they, alongside many other volunteers, have worked for over two decades to help make that happen.
Peter Smith, project manager for Blyth Culture and Arts Initiative 14/19 and from the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity also spoke, communicating the importance of the trail to those viewing the community from the outside.
Smith told those in attendance about a recent event where various project leaders from Blyth connected with decision-makers in Ottawa for a special Blyth-centric event and the amount of interest garnered by the trail was huge.
The fact that the G2G Rail Trail could connect Blyth (and a dozen other communities along the trail) to over half a million people in the Guelph area was a major point of interest for federal politicians, Smith said.
Next year’s annual barbecue and general meeting, which will be the third in the trail’s history, will be held on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in Elmira along the Kissing Bridge Trailway.
For more information on the trail, visit www.g2grailtrail.com.