Project Name:  Soft Outdoor Destinations and Experiences – Goderich to Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail

Background

The Goderich to Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail continues to be a regional development priority. At 127 km in length, this linear, off-road path connects the Golden Horseshoe (and train stations in Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo) to the lakeshore at Goderich. It is a passive, completely off-road trail with a maximum 3% grade, with the potential to be the only fully accessible trail system in Ontario. G2G Rail Trail Inc., which received the lease from the Province in 2015, continues to improve sections along the trail.

While the Province owns the land and it is 99% under lease now for recreational purposes, there are substantial gaps in infrastructure which need to be addressed to realize the “fully accessible” dream. Within short order (2017) most of the trail length will be useable to foot traffic on a graded and conditioned trail. The gaps that exist require the replacement of the structures (bridges, tunnels, culverts) that were removed upon the decommissioning of the rail line, and repair to the bed due to erosion, vandalism and illegal landowner use. About 30 of these issues exist in some form along the trail’s 127km length and it is the focus of RTO4, the trail associations involved and many volunteers to address these gaps.

As a result, RTO4 partnered with G2G on the management of a crowd sourcing campaign. A public information and crowd funding campaign was launched June 20th and completed August 14th to raise awareness and funds for completion of high priority projects along the trail.

A Project Coordinator was hired on a 4-month contract to develop and template best practices, with the use of Smartsheet project planning software, in order to manage construction and communication projects. A key task of the Coordinator was facilitating G2G’s AGM which resulted in increased and improved community involvement.

Completion of the “Walton Departure Point” demonstrated a best practice for the trail’s development, as well as making a connection from the trail to the International Plowing Match to be held in Walton in 2017. A kiosk and signage is in place and trail clearing has occurred on approximately 38 kilometers.

AECOM Canada Ltd. was retained by RTO4 to complete structure site reviews of 5 proposed non-vehicular fully accessible trail crossings through the counties of Perth and Huron. The purpose of the investigation was to determine the desirability and feasibility of repurposing the existing railway abutments for continued use for bridges. RTO4 has shared this report with the G2G Rail Trail Inc. to use in determining their next priority projects.

A Memorandum of Understanding valued at $80,000 was established with the Region of Waterloo in early 2016 to complete comprehensive engineering studies that assessed the pillars of two significant bridge structures along the G2G Trail. The engineering assessment is now complete and shows the suitability of reusing the existing structures over the Grand River at West Montrose (the vistas from this bridge are spectacular) and the relative unsuitability of reusing the piers and abutment over the Conestogo River due to their poor condition. As a result, RTO4 will be working with Waterloo Region to develop and quantify costing on the recommended course of action, to determine what sort of resources partners can bring to the table to advance either or both projects.

Further expanding the trail support network and looking to address significant infrastructure gaps at the west end of the trail, RTO4 entered a Memorandum of Understanding with Huron County to complete one infrastructure project there in 2017/18. RTO4 will continue to work with the growing trail support network of stakeholders committed to the completion of the G2G Rail Trail through 2017/18 in Huron as this project evolves, and along the entire length of the trail as well.

Building on learnings from the Grand River project, the necessity and format of a Standards Manual to address consistent accessibility, wayfinding and emergency services signage along the entirety of the trail will be examined.

2017/2018 Objectives

OBJECTIVE #1 – The identification, assessment and project construction of an infrastructure project in partnership with Huron County.

OBJECTIVE #2 – Continued collaboration with the Region of Waterloo engineering project planning to develop project plans for the Grand and Conestogo River crossings.

OBJECTIVE #3 – Establish and continue partnerships that strengthen the trail support network and contribute to progress on the trail.

Key Activities

  • Assessment, identification and development of a project plan for one engineer project in Huron County.
  • Continued collaboration with the Region of Waterloo.
  • Continued support aimed at completion of the G2G Trail.

For more details on this project, please visit the 2017 RTO4 Business Plan, pages 42-44 (PDF 1.4MB).