News & Events

May 16, 2022 | A letter from the Waterford Heritage Trail Association President

Thank you for your comments and concerns. You can be assured that the Waterford Heritage Trail Association does listen to trail users, our members, our community and other stakeholders involved with trail upkeep and development.

Historically we have sought advice from experts in several fields, biologists, engineers, the Trans Canada Trail, Norfolk County, Province of Ontario, Brant Waterways National Trails Coalition and Alus to name a few. Consultation is required even for something as simple as the decking and railings of our Black Bridge. In fact, these railings were constructed higher than the requirement at the time in anticipation of a possible new code for bridge railings. Next time you cross the bridge try to imagine these railings several inches lower.

When you are on the bridge, look down at our two smaller bridges. To the uninformed, it may seem easy to bring in a bridge and place it over the river. It is nowhere near that easy. Permission to span these gaps had to be obtained from several agencies and environmental concerns addressed prior to installation.

Wander now down the trail to directly below the Legion. That puddle of water below the Legion is where the LE&N railway once had a switching yard. At some point, the rails and ballast were removed leaving a depression. Later a culvert that drained this area was damaged creating what we refer to as the accidental pond. This was several years prior to the establishment of the WHT. When it came time for us to connect the trail to Waterford we needed to span where the water from this pond drained westward. The Ministry of the Environment would not permit us to fix the damaged culvert to drain the pond (not that we wanted to) or allow a culvert where the boardwalk is now.

Another problem we encountered was the Thompson Rd Bridge. It was to be removed by the County and a steep switchback path was to lead down to Thompson Rd, then cross the road and continue up a switchback on the other side to continue to the Black Bridge. An engineering study was conducted proving the viability of the existing bridge and now we have an accessible level crossing over Thompson Rd.

The WHT was the first paved trail in Norfolk from Thompson Rd north to the Black Bridge. At the official opening of the Black Bridge, our Mayor at the time asked why we paved this section. Our response was – for strollers, inline skaters, skateboarders, wheelchairs, tricycles and children learning to ride a bike. As we talked two young boys using inline skates came along our trail. The mayor asked them why they were there. Their response was, “Our mom told us to go skate on the trail and stay off the roads.” Shortly after that meeting with those children, the trails in the town of Simcoe were also paved.

The Thompson Rd Bridge was the start of our original 6.2 Km trail which extended south to concession 13. Sunrise Rotary Trail joined our trail to Simcoe and Lynn Valley Trail. Over the years we have leased 27 Km of trail with an option to 10 more Km. Of the potential 37 Km of trail, we are proposing to pave 14 km which includes what is already paved in Waterford. We had always planned to pave the trail within the Waterford town limits. The only change is that we may now have the opportunity to do more and connect with the paved trail in Brant County leading to Cambridge, Kitchener and Hamilton. It would be remiss of us to not investigate this opportunity. The chance to pave northwards is still being discussed and as with every other decision in our history, we will not rush into something without proper planning and consulting with the experts. In fact, one meeting with a biologist has already taken place.

Turtles are a concern to us in more ways than one. Would paving destroy nesting areas? Is it possible for us to improve the nesting areas by providing other suitable areas along the trail where they can nest? Are animals that dig up the turtle eggs creating a danger to trail users and a liability for the trail? Do we avoid paving the turtle areas? All questions that need to be and will be considered as we have done in the past from planting prairie grass for birds, pollinator garden for insects and a nature trail for humans.

The trail from Thompson RD south to Simcoe does need to be resurfaced. We have a quote for stone screenings back to the original width, spread and packed to a depth of 3 inches. What is stopping us from doing so is a major infrastructure project by the County. Those of you who have ventured south of Old Highway 24 have noticed a couple of pipes sticking out of the ground. These are wells which could provide water from the Bloomsburg aquifer to Simcoe and possibly Waterford. The County could choose to bring water from Lake Erie through Haldimand to Simcoe and north to Waterford. The proposed pipeline would be run underground along the trail. It would be an obvious waste of money to do much beyond routine maintenance of this section of trail until we know the outcome of the waterline.

Trail users from our early years will remember the 3-post system at our access points as being 2 posts 30 inches apart with a third post planted forming a triangle which was hard to maneuver bikes through but did keep most motorized traffic off the trail. We widened all our original gates to be a minimum of 40 inches and removed the third post to make our gates accessible. I mention this because of the discussion regarding the disabilities act. Long before this act came into being we had learned of new rules coming our way. Being a fairly level trail we are accessible and making our entries wider made us more accessible.

People who know me also know I run long distances. On several occasions, I have run the trail from Simcoe to Brantford and back. I have often noticed two things. In Mount Pleasant, there are two trails, one paved and one stone dust. I meet many more users on the paved trail and I also meet people using inline skates. The inline skaters and several others turn around at Jenkins Rd where the paving ceases. The same holds true for a trail I have run near Owego NY. The paved trail has more users than the nearby stone dust one.

To address other concerns, some people believe our county would be better off investing $100,000 in the upkeep of roads around the town. This is true. What they may not know is that the councillors were going to investigate ways of obtaining the money without spending Norfolk taxpayer money. We suggest that Council Googles “Canada’s Active Transportation Fund”. This is one such way Norfolk could possibly find the money.

We are proud of how far we have come and the obstacles we have overcome to create and improve this beautiful trail for our community. We would appreciate when addressing us on social media some civility and respect. We are not “an entitled committee” nor are we ignoring “The past committee’s hard work.” In truth, some of us have been members of and on the Waterford Heritage Trail Executive since our start in 2002. We are all unpaid volunteers who donate our own time, money and resources to this trail. When you are on the trail and meet the person trimming one of the access points at Shadow Lake, cutting up a fallen tree, installing a memorial bench, replacing a damaged sign or any other of the never-ending list of trail chores, remember they are a volunteer for the betterment of our community trail. From 2002 onwards it has been our members that have made the Waterford Heritage Trail a success and it is worth repeating that we are very proud of our many accomplishments, look forward to more improvements in the future and it is well worth it for the greater Waterford Community.

Terry W Bonnett
President
Waterford Heritage Trail Association.


It’s back! Annual Trail Work Day

Our first Shadow Lake Trail Work Day since COVID was held on April 23, 2022. We tackled several small projects including trail clean-up, mulching and planting wildflowers. A BIG thank you to everyone who came out to help.


Words from our chair

Check out our new ‘Words from our chair’ page for a summary of the past year’s activities and accomplishments.


Waterford Heritage Trail Newsletter


In the news

New pedestrian bridge in the town of Waterford thanks to fundraising efforts

CHCH News, November 10, 2021


Bridge the Gap! campaign complete

Crane installing bridge in Waterford, Ontario

Trail network west of downtown Waterford restored

By Monte Sonnenberg • Simcoe Reformer, November 10, 2021


Public invited to observe bridge installation

Trail team beside the fundraising poster

By Reformer staff • Simcoe Reformer, November 08, 2021


Bridging a gap along Waterford trail

Andy Kooistra of Waterford, chair of the Shadow Lake Group

Fundraiser will complete popular Waterford walkway

By Alex Hunt • Simcoe Reformer, Jun 01, 2021


Waterford trail gets bike repair station

Waterford trail team installing the bike station

By Ashley Taylor • Simcoe Reformer, Aug 04, 2020


Waterford group makes bid for Langton bridge

By Monte Sonnenberg • Simcoe Reformer, Aug 27, 2018


Waterford Heritage Trail wins ‘Prettiest trail in Norfolk’!

MyFM Spirit of Norfolk Awards

Read more about the contest


COVID-19 Updates

Visit the Norfolk County website for the latest news and information about COVID-19.