LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Connecting Tillsonburg to nearby communities with off-road bike trails
I would like to suggest to those running for positions on Tillsonburg Town Council that a continuation of the recently constructed short stretch of biking/walking trail from Fourth Street to Cranberry Rd., Tillsonburg, eastward to Springford is long overdue.
It’s a great start, but provides only a 10-15 minute ride, round trip. Such an extension is part of the Oxford County Strategic Plan for trails. My feeling from the lack of interest expressed to me from calls to Woodstock is that nothing will happen without our own council in Tillsonburg taking a leadership role. You will hear, I’m sure, from others who wish to have our council press forward with this move. Is it overdue? I remember sitting on the board of the now defunct Tillsonburg Trails Association, back in the 90’s, which suggested then that a trail for Tillsonburg, similar to the ambitious Lynn Valley link from Simcoe to Port Dover was a natural. So let’s agree that various local councils during the intervening years have kept this endeavour on the back burner for close to 25 years.
1. Rails to Trails is a concept widely in place in various parts of the province to promote fitness, fun, and recreation for the population at large. Close to home, Brant & Norfolk are models of inter-community connectivity with safe, smooth bike links, away from vehicular traffic. Nor far from home, there are perfect examples of how such trails have become a source of community pride. They connect Delhi to Simcoe, (a scenic new trail stretching from Fertilizer Rd. eastward through forest sprinkled with aspens, maples and sassafras), Simcoe to Port Dover in one direction and Waterford in the other. From Waterford the beautiful, new Heritage bike trail connects to Scotland, hardly a huge metropolis. Scotland has a magnificent trail, totally paved, which can be walked, biked or roller-bladed into Brantford.
2. Sad to say, in Tillsonburg we not only have stood still with inter-community trail connection but have lost ground, as the former track bed heading south from Rokeby Rd. or Mabees Sideroad, all the way to Port Burwell, has been fenced off on both sides of Straffordville.
3. It is not my intention to ignore the gem of a walking trail we have in the Carroll Trail (kudos to Pat & family) starting in Coronation Park and wending its way through the Bridges golf course. However, because of the steep hills it is not biking friendly for the average recreational rider, and from November through April is often hazardous even for walking, due to icy surfaces.
4. I see the next few weeks as vital in selecting a Tillsonburg Council with new blood, becoming proactive in going forward with whatever needs to be done to get shovels in the ground on the Tillsonburg to Springford trail connection. Let’s use a “THIS YEAR," not "THIS DECADE" approach. The basic surface is there now, and can be navigated at present on bike, although very narrow in spots and riddled with mud puddles in sections which need reinforcing with gravel and layers of fine stone screenings to make for an enjoyable ride, for people of all ages.