The Georgian Bay Cycle Route Steering Committee is pleased to announce that a feasibility study of the proposed 1000 km signed, cycle route circumnavigating Georgian Bay indicates that 800 km is implementation-ready and that community support around the entire 1000 km for the concept is strong.
The proposed Georgian Bay Cycling Route (GBCyR) follows existing trails and roads as close to Georgian Bay as possible with views and access to the shoreline, farmland, forest and the rocky terrain of the Canadian Shield. The GBCyR connects the culture, heritage and lifestyles of 35+ communities around Georgian Bay with two UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves, two National Parks, 15 Provincial Parks and includes the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun Ferry crossing to Manitoulin Island.
The GBCyR Steering Committee was established last summer to oversee a feasibility study for the Georgian Bay Cycle Route concept. It comprised representatives from six organizations including the province’s Regional Tourism Organizations, Sudbury Cyclists Union, Waterfront Regeneration Trust, and route founders, Denis Baldwin and the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates. LAMBAC (LaCloche Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation) chaired the Steering Committee and administered funding for the study, which was received from FedNor, the province’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“The Feasibility Study has been an effective way to test the concept for the Route. With 800 km suitable for implementation, we are closer to developing a cross-regional new tourism product than we realized”, says John Foster, LAMBAC who chaired Steering Committee. “Implementation will require finding a sustainable home for the project—the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s mandate, partnership model and experience make it an ideal organization to take over the initiative from the Steering Committee. They are already working with communities along the North Shore of Lake Huron to bring the Waterfront Trail from Sault Ste Marie to Sudbury so adding the Georgian Bay Cycling Route is a natural fit for the Trust. We are very pleased and excited that they accepted the challenge.”
The Waterfront Regeneration Trust (WRT), a registered charity leading work to create a Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, has been invited by the Steering Committee to take on GBCyR implementation and add the new signature route around Georgian Bay to the 1400km Waterfront Trail. After 20 years of investment, the Waterfront Trail connects 70 communities along the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River waterfronts from Quebec to Windsor. By the end of this year it will go to Grand Bend.
“The Waterfront Trail has gone through 6 major expansions since its launch in 1995,” said Marlaine Koehler, executive director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. “Each expansion was spear-headed by visionary community leaders with a great idea—such as the Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates. Successful, sustainable implementation, however, depends on a establishing a partnership of communities committed to creating and promoting the Route.”
Over 58 communities and organizations provided letters of support for the Georgian Bay Cycling Route concept giving the Waterfront Regeneration Trust a good foundation on which to expand the partnership.
The WRT currently co-ordinates a partnership of 70+ communities along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Last year, as part of a trail-wide strategic planning process, the WRT’s partners overwhelmingly endorsed a Great Lakes vision for the Waterfront Trail and partnership. An expansion of the Trail and partnership to include Georgian Bay is consistent with this mandate.
Transportation Options and The Resource Management Consulting Group conducted the feasibility study. Representatives of municipalities, tourism organizations, health units and cycling clubs participated in workshops on the route held in Little Current, Sudbury, Parry Sound, Gravenhurst, Midland, Collingwood, Owen Sound and Wiarton. Staff from the Ministry of Transportation Northeastern Region and the Sustainable and Innovative Transportation Office provided insight regarding issues pertaining the provincial highways and secondary roads, as well as perspective regarding the CycleOn Strategy.
A summary of the route and findings can be found at Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s website:
Members of the Steering Committee:
LAMBAC John Foster, Chair
Adam Hayden, Secretary
Manitoulin Island Cycling Advocates Maja Mielonen
Denis Baldwin, Route Planner
Regional Tourism Organization 7 Paul Crysler
Regional Tourism Organization 12 Peter Daleman
Sudbury Cyclists Union Rachelle Niemela
Waterfront Regeneration Trust Marlaine Koehler
For more information contact:
Waterfront Regeneration Trust
Phone: 416 943 8080
Cell: 416 520 4205