April 10, 2013

Erin trails plan will highlight heritage

As published in The Erin Advocate

The Erin Trails Network should focus on local heritage as a way to promote economic development, according to Recreation and Culture Chair Bill Dinwoody.

He updated councillors last week on plans for a new parkette on Town land on Church Street near Hull's Dam. It would include picnic tables and an interpretive sign about the "big ditch" that once delivered water from above the dam to power the grist mill on the other side of the downtown core.

"This idea stemmed from a request by 'day' tourists from the GTA who asked if there was a place for them to have a picnic after they had explored the village," said Dinwoody. Future development could include observation platforms for people to view the river and wildlife.

"This location is also a key link in the future trail network expansion throughout the village. The Town of Erin should be looked at as an 'Emerald Jewel' in the heart of Ontario, uniquely positioned as the doorway to the Headwaters. Our trail network should be promoted as such."

Erin Trails is organizing a tree planting session for May 4, starting at 9 am, in the Deer Pit next to the Elora-Cataract Trailway, behind the Tennis Courts. It is being done in conjunction with Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) and the Climate Change Action Group of Erin (CCAGE).

The public is welcome to assist with the planting of 200 trees and shrubs, based on a landscaping plan previously commissioned by the Town. The goal is to reduce erosion and enhance the appearance of this municipal property.

There has also been discussion about developing a trail around the upper perimeter of the Deer Pit which could provide an improved link from the high school area to Erin Park Drive and be used as a cross-country track.

Erin Trails is a sub-committee of the Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee. Over the past two years they have worked with the Rotary Club of Erin to refurbished the trail from the Delarmbro subdivision to the Water Tower Road and the Cenotaph on Main Street. They have planted trees, erected signs and shamrock trail markers, and built both a bridge across a small stream and a stairway up a steep incline.

The two groups were recognized for their work by CVC recently, with a Friends of the Credit Award. Frank Smedley of Erin Trails presented the award to Council last week, and paid tribute to Steve Revell for his many years of hard work and leadership in this area.

Dinwoody said Erin's network of trails could link up with trails in the Headwaters and Grand River watershed, and form a part of the Active Transportation initiative in Wellington County.

"We are planning to research and promote the heritage of the Town, and will work with the Heritage Committee, BIA and Chamber of Commerce to present the 'charm' of the Town," he said.

"We believe that by presenting the main streets of Hillsburgh and Erin villages as 'Heritage Trails' which connect with the Elora-Cataract Trailway, promotion brochures with trail maps for visitors to conduct their own 'exploratory' walks would be appealing."

Erin Trails will be registering the Town with Ontario's 2014 Doors Open program, as well as the Trails Open event, both of which will attract visitors.