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Niagara Falls
Monday, April 22, 2024
Community ‘enthusiastically’ supports Heritage Trail restoration

Preserving and restoring the Upper Canada Heritage Trail is important to people like David Waller, one of many NOTL residents who showed support by cutting a $100 cheque to fund restoration of the trail on Monday afternoon.

The sponsorship campaign began two weeks ago, and the committee has already raised $12,000, said Rick Meloen, chair of the Heritage Trail Committee of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“We’re really excited about today because there are so many people that have come out, and the enthusiasm for this trail has really exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Though still quite a way from reaching the target goal of $150,000, Meloen said community support has been “terrific.”

Waller donated to the trail because he said the preservation and enhancement of local assets, like the trail, are important to maintaining a sustainable community.

“It’s so easy not to celebrate your history. It’s much better to have decent signs when people walk up, and be able to say, ‘Wow, there used to be a railroad here.’ And you start to put things together, imagine the train coming down, going into town, steam going – it just kind of brings things to life,” Waller said.

Money raised will go toward improving trail visibility, both physically and in the consciousness of NOTL residents, says a Heritage Trail brochure put out by the town.

As well as encouraging healthy living, Meloen said the goal is to preserve some of NOTL’s heritage.

“I’m a big one on the history of the town. This has been an important part of our history, the railroad, and (restoring the trail) has been a way of keeping that memory of the railroad alive,” Meloen said.

The Heritage Trail committee was created after the Niagara-on-the-Lake Sesquicentennial Committee, formed for the Canada 150 celebration, wanted to establish a legacy project.

Knowing that restoration of the trail, which runs along the old Erie and Ontario Railway Line, would take several years, the new committee was created in 2019.

The trail runs more than 10 kilometres from the John and King streets all the way to York Road, where it will once again connect with the Bruce Trail.

“Twenty years ago, this was a side trail of the Bruce Trail, but because of the deterioration, it was taken off the Bruce Trail map. But once we do the restoration, it will once again be a side trail of the Bruce Trail,” Meloen said, adding that the committee is hoping to continue the path toward the NOTL docks after this phase is complete.

“Once we do this, we’re hoping to turn around, and make some sort of path, sidewalk, signs, some way to get people down to the dock area, because, of course, that’s where the train ended,” he said.

Monday’s presentation saw support from more than 40 residents, council members and local businesses who have donated to the restoration of the trail. The committee will continue to accept donations.

Cheques can be made to the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, with Heritage Trail added to the memo portion.

Amounts of $25 or more will receive a charitable donation tax receipt, and any gifts of more than $1,000 will be recognized publicly.

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