Waterford Heritage Trail Paving Project

The Waterford Heritage Trail Association’s paving project will improve trail accessibility and user experience between Waterford and Brantford, resulting in an improved outdoor recreational and educational space.

Learn more about the project

Provide your feedback!

Norfolk County is seeking public input about paving the Waterford Heritage Trail.

Help shape the future of the Waterford Heritage Trail and how individuals of all ages and abilities are able to use the trail. This consultation process will gather information, identify and evaluate different design options and allow for users of this trail for their voices to be heard.

Project Overview

Woman walking on the trail

The Waterford Heritage Trail Paving Project will increase the accessibility for all users, in particular, people who use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, strollers and bicycles by paving the section of the trail from Mechanic Street/Concession 8 in Waterford to Jenkins road in Brant County/Brantford, with the exception of areas identified as sensitive habitats. The project will include a culvert replacement and the planting of native species.

In partnership with the Moccasin Identifier Project, the Waterford Heritage Trail project will also bring attention to the heritage of local Indigenous communities by painting Moccasins along the trail and adding a traditional Sitting Circle for rest and reflection. Signage will be designed and installed to highlight Indigenous heritage, nature identification and historic significance.

Learn more about the history of the Waterford Heritage Trail and Shadow Lake. 

Support from the community

From the start, there was overwhelming support for this project.

“The Waterford Heritage Trail Association has been doing great and creative things with the various sections of trail in the Waterford area for years”
Mark Boerkamp, Norfolk’s supervisor of trails and cemeteries

“The trails in Waterford have assumed a life of their own… With COVID in particular, they are busy all the time. They have generated enormous amounts of business for the downtown and surrounding area. I can’t say enough about them. They are an actual treasure in Waterford.”
Waterford Coun. Kim Huffman

How can I support this project?

Norfolk County is seeking public input about paving the Waterford Heritage Trail. Help shape the future of the Waterford Heritage Trail and how individuals of all ages and abilities are able to use the trail. This consultation process will gather information, identify and evaluate different design options and allow for users of this trail for their voices to be heard. Take the survey now!

Frequently Asked Questions

Trail leading up to the stairs

Why did the Waterford Heritage Trail Association undertake this project now?

A benefactor and trail enthusiast offered a substantial sum as the initial donation to pave the trail north from Waterford to Brant County where paving begins, providing access to many kilometres of paved trails in Brant County and the City of Brantford. As an association, we had ever only envisioned being able to complete this substantial project in sections. Thanks to the support of Venture Norfolk, the Waterford Heritage Trail Association applied for a federal grant and was successful in securing $450,000. All to say, we mobilized to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

How will the paving impact the community?

Paving will improve accessibility to areas of the trail otherwise unavailable or difficult to use by many members of our community, including people with disabilities and families with strollers. Paved trails provide a smooth riding surface preferred by many cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders and families with strollers.

From an economic perspective, paving will promote more walking, hiking and cycling traffic between Brantford and Waterford,  benefitting local businesses.

Are all trails in Waterford being paved?

No. The paving project includes 11 km from Concession 8 (Mechanic Street) to Jenkins Road. The section of the trail south of Waterford to Simcoe will remain unpaved. In addition, a new five-kilometre recreation trail around Long Pond, Short Pond and Trout Pond will remain unpaved. Check out the trail map (PDF) for details!

As well, there are future plans to renew a 10 km section of rail trail toward Mount Pleasant that will remain unpaved (the hash line on the trail map (PDF).

When does this work need to be done?

The grant funds are mandated to be used by March 31, 2023. Since the project is mostly paving, the work must be done in the fall of 2022.

What will happen to the grant if this project is not approved?

If the project is not approved as proposed the funds will be lost to Norfolk County.
Arial view of the ponds, trails and bridges

Are county dollars being spent on this project?

No, there are no County funds required for the project.

Has the turtle population been considered?

Yes. The turtle habitat has been studied by a specialized biologist. Parts of the trail will remain unpaved and habitat protection and enhancement will be addressed in consultation with our expert.

How will the paving company be selected if the project is approved?

The successful contractor will be chosen in a manner conforming to Norfolk County procurement principles. Read more about Norfolk County’s procurement policy (PDF).

Perspective from the Waterford Heritage Trail Association (WHTA)

WHTA has always had a community vision from day one. Over the past 20 years this has meant a lot of cooperation with neighbours, elected County officials, County Staff, supporters and the occasional nay-sayer.

Norfolk County is flat, a former lakebed, and our trail is situated on what was a Rail Line that, by necessity, sought to be on level ground. Maximizing access to the trail was always a priority. During previous projects, we worked with Shelby, the former Norfolk County Accessibility staff member, and that led us to widen the space between our gates and gate posts to 40-inch openings to allow for wheelchairs and mobility devices on what was then an 18 km trail.
Trail showing walking and riding icons

For the past 20 years, we have wanted to pave the trail within Waterford, just as the trail within Simcoe has been paved for many years. During this time, we paved several sections, including the trail to the downtown seniors’ home to allow residents to enjoy the beauty of our trails and ponds. A committee member distinctly remembers meeting Helen from the seniors’ residence in her wheelchair, assisted by her niece, and she was thrilled to be able to readily access our trails and ponds.

Over those 20 years, we procured two bridges to enhance the experience, provide new connections and offer expanded areas. 

We extended our vision of accessibility to reach the Brant County rail trail that has access to Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener and beyond to the full extent of the Trans Canada Trail, of which we are a proud member. To achieve this goal we applied for Federal funding based on providing accessibility to wheelchair-users, walker-users, people with canes and crutches, people walking, families with strollers as well as biking, rollerblading, people who need assistance to enjoy Nature, mobility devices of every description, and were granted the funds to do so. We were gobsmacked! What volunteer committee in Norfolk County has had access to so much federal tax-funded money?

The grant and community supporters will allow us to pave 11 km of trail. We will leave 12 km unpaved, with a good possibility of a further 10 km of unpaved trail in the future. This leaves more than half of our trail network unpaved.

More and more seniors are taking part in healthy outdoor activities. We have heard concerns from this group about ensuring that bike riders follow trail etiquette. To reinforce trail manners, we have budgeted for signage that will communicate how to relate to others and share the pathway. We are optimistic and believe that signage will have an impact, small at first, but building to include others and others until, with peer pressure and by example, we will have a system like in Quebec where trail etiquette is required and demanded.

What energizes us as a community volunteer committee is the positive feedback we receive for blazing new trail adventures for all sectors of our society. However, the advent of social media provides a platform for people who are not members, not supporters, not volunteers, people who have not explored the length and breadth of our trail systems. It allows people to submit their opinions to the internet without sitting down and discussing their needs with us.

In summary, we have secured funding without asking our members for financial support. We have consulted with the County. We have consulted a herpetologist about the turtles and are moving forward with her advice. We have protected wildlife habitats by leaving a concession of the trail unpaved. We have plenty of unpaved trails for those who cannot walk on pavement (check out our PDF map!). The County is undertaking the accessibility assessment process.

As you can see, there have been a lot of compromises involved in our path forward.

Frank Woodcock,
WHTA Committee Member

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