Simcoe County is working on connecting Barrie and Springwater – trail-wise, that is.
There’s now an identified gap in the Simcoe County Loop Trail, a regional trail that will one day connect Barrie with Orillia and Penetanguishene and points in-between.
“There definitely is a lack of connectivity between Barrie and the county-wide system and the broader rail trails network,” said Dan Kingsbury, the Simcoe County planner coordinating the effort that involves Barrie, Springwater Township and the Trans Canada Trail organization.
“Right now, the Trans Canada Trail stops at the boundary of Barrie, then picks up again on the North Simcoe Rail Trail in Springwater. There’s a gap between the existing trails in Barrie and Springwater.”
The link he’s proposing includes what many snowmobilers, cyclists and hikers already use as a trail: the unopened road allowance of Anne Street North at Carson Road.
Approximately 20 km of the Trans Canada Trail is in Barrie. One section heads northwest from the waterfront, into Queen’s Park, up Sunnidale Road and into the park.
The proposed linkage would extend the Trans Canada Trail from Sunnidale Park, take it along Sunnidale Road to Anne Street North, then up Anne Street and into Springwater Township.
The linkage would go along the unopened road allowance and into the Hickling Tract of the Simcoe County Forest, then connect to Snow Valley Road.
Ultimately the goal is to tie together trails throughout the county, many of which are on former rail corridors, into a safe, low-impact 160-km trail that would appeal to locals and tourists. Cyclists could enjoy the trail over two to three days, Kingsbury added.
The county estimates designing the new linkage would cost $25,000, which would come from the county’s Trails Connecting Communities Program budget.
The proposed route still must receive approval from not only county council, but also its partners, including the Trans Canada Trail board, Kingsbury added.