The Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act, 2016 will strengthen Ontario’s extensive trails system. It will protect and enhance thousands of kilometres of the province’s urban, suburban, rural and remote land and water trails while also encouraging its expansion by:
- Providing the trails community with enhanced tools to effectively develop, operate and promote trails
- Removing barriers to help connect and expand trails across the province
- Increasing trail awareness and promoting local tourism by enabling the recognition of Ontario trails of distinction, supporting communities and jobs across Ontario
- Enabling the development of a classification system to help users find trails that match their interest and ability.
The new legislation also makes amendments to existing legislation to address liability, trespassing and protection of property issues.
Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said: “Passing the supporting Ontario’s Trails Act signals Ontario’s recognition of the importance of trails and their contribution to strong, healthy and vibrant communities and local economies. This legislation will ensure Ontario’s world-class trails continue to offer a place for families, friends and future generations to explore and experience our province’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.”
Protecting and improving Ontario trails is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- Ontario has the second-largest trails network in Canada, with about 2,500 trails spanning over 80,000 kilometres that support recreation, tourism and active transportation.
- From 2009 through 2015, the province invested approximately $130 million to support Ontario’s trails.
- Through Ontario’s 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games Legacy, Ontario has supported the completion of 254 kilometres of the Trans Canada Trail Ontario resulting in a continuous route of over 2,000 kilometres, connecting communities from Ottawa to Windsor and Fort Erie to Huntsville.
- Ontario Parks protects and manages approximately 2,200 kilometres of trails and boardwalks.
- Thousands of kilometers of trails and roads are on provincial Crown land that are open for the public to use free of charge.
- In 2014, hiking expenditures by Ontarians added $559 million to Ontario’s GDP and created more than 18,000 jobs across the province with an annual economic benefit of nearly $1.4 billion. – CINEWS