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TWEED gets accolades for trail system
March 01, 2005

"What you've achieved here is well ahead of what most other areas have," acknowledged Tim Peterson at the February 23 Trails meeting in Tweed. Mr. Peterson is the Ontario Minister of Tourism and Recreation, Chair of the Ontario Trails Strategy and MPP for Mississauga South. He made a special stop in Tweed at the urging of Leona Dombrowsky, MPP for Hastings-Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington, and Minister of the Environment. Mr. Peterson quipped that Ms. Dombrowsky was quite insistent that he should see what Tweed was doing in trails development.

By MARIL SWAN
The Tweed News
"What you've achieved here is well ahead of what most other areas have,"
acknowledged Tim Peterson at the February 23 Trails meeting in Tweed. Mr.
Peterson is the Ontario Minister of Tourism and Recreation, Chair of the
Ontario Trails Strategy and MPP for Mississauga South. He made a special
stop in Tweed at the urging of Leona Dombrowsky, MPP for Hastings-Prince
Edward-Lennox & Addington, and Minister of the Environment. Mr. Peterson
quipped that Ms. Dombrowsky was quite insistent that he should see what
Tweed was doing in trails development.
Peterson was admittedly impressed at the level of partnerships and
co-operation that had been fostered by Cindy Cassidy and the Eastern Ontario
Trails Alliance. Several times, the minister alluded to the fact that Tweed
was ahead in economic development, tourism packaging and other efforts to
make the trail system a viable tourist and recreation destination. He
thought that Tweed's EOTA could be used as a model for trails planning in
Ontario.
Mr. Peterson and his Legislative Assistant, Laura Dowsley have been
travelling throughout southern Ontario for nearly two weeks, attending
regional meetings to get a sense of where these areas are in their trails
development. He noted that the ministries of Transportation, Natural
Resources and Mines and Northern Development of the Ontario government are
co-operating to make the trails system more attractive to users. The
Ministry of Natural Resources has a huge computer with a mapping program and
database that could be used to create any kind of map.
He mentioned that many trail users come from outside Ontario and he would
like to see a package developed to bring in European tourists in greater
numbers. "How about a couple of days in Toronto, seeing some theatre shows,
a day in Niagara Falls, and maybe a guided tour on the trail system," he
mused. "The mystique of Canada is an expanse of open area." He said he had
travelled extensively throughout the world, and that is what people from
overcrowded countries are looking for when they come to Canada.
One of the main aims of Peterson?s odyssey through Ontario is to try to get
conflicting elements together to create a synergy in trails planning.
Farmers whose property is adjacent to trails, police forces with trails in
their jurisdictions, towns like Tweed with a trail system nearby, all must
try to learn to live with the trails and make them enjoyable and safe.
Peterson said that the traditional industries of mining and forestry don?t
employ that many people any longer. It is tourism that is the growing
industry and that should be the focus of the trails.
After Mr. Peterson finished his presentation, Ms. Cassidy introduced Pat
Brown, co-owner of Park Place Motel in Tweed. With EOTA's help, she had put
together an ATV package which was promoted on the EOTA website. Ms. Brown
announced that their ATV business had tripled in the past year, and they had
received a lot of positive feedback on the beauty of the trail. Brown noted
that it seems to be 4 to 1 ATV riders to snowmobilers, and that the trails
could become a four-season facility.
Terry Shea, manager of the Land O' Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA) said he
came to praise EOTA. He added that "one of the most common questions he's
asked at tourism shows is, what are the trails like?" He is glad to be able
to give them the EOTA 1-800 number so they can check. "We can always fill
cottages in July," he said, "but the trails offer four-season tourism
opportunities."

Local farmer Bill Palmateer, represented the Hastings Ontario Federation of
Agriculture and also adjacent farmers? whose lands abut the trails. "I
originally wanted to stop the trails,? he admitted. Then he decided to take
part, so farmers would have a voice in its development." His main concern
was fencing along the trails to minimize trespassing and property damage.
Being part of the trails planning has made a believer of Palmateer.
"Everything we have done has enhanced the trails," he said. "People out
there now respect it, and have a destination."
Cindy Cassidy, General Manager of the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance,
emphasized that it was working with partnerships that creates the linkages
needed for the trails' success. EOTA partners with ATVOntario and the OPP
among others to develop best practices models. She added that ATV use has
the potential to be bigger than snowmobiles.
The meeting included a lunch and was attended by about 30 people from
several municipalities including councillors and a couple of mayors.

Following the meeting, Mr. Peterson and Reeve Vance Drain unveiled a new
sign adjacent to the Tweed entrance to the trail system, next to the
Heritage Centre. Marmora and Madoc will also have these signs which invite
trail users to visit the town.



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