Finding happy trails for everyone

On the face of it, the presentation made by Dr. Tom Touzel and Mike Sewell to Greater Napanee council seems like a slam-dunk of an idea.

In essence their ambition is to turn an abandoned rail line into a multi-purpose trail for all to enjoy.

It’s beauty lies in its simplicity. The path is already there. Aside from a little needed TLC, the path could realistically be ready by summer. What’s not to like?

That was until a deputation made shortly after by local farmer Dave Milligan, whose land ends about 100 feet from the a portion of the proposed trail. He brought up some very valid concerns about what inviting the public to use the trail could mean for his livelihood. In an ideal world it would be easy to argue that people using the trail would respect the neighbouring property and they wouldn’t wander onto private land. But unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and it would be rather unrealistic to expect that not to happen.

Valid as those concerns are, we hope they won’t derail the trail as it were. Hopefully there’s some kind of middle ground that can be found here-though admittedly that’s much easier said than done.

Though it may not be a straightforward path (metaphorically speaking that is), the effort to develop more trails within the town limits is a noble and necessary one.

When the world shutdown in March of 2020 and stay-home orders were in place there were suddenly two kinds of fever with which to deal.

The first was the obvious and could be tracked through the use of a COVID-19 test. The second was a little more abstract but carried with it a very different set of dangers-cabin fever.

In an effort to stave of the feelings of isolation while working from home, this reporter invoked a self-imposed challenge to get 10,000 steps a day. With a handy step tracker app loaded onto an iPhone, the daily goal remains a good excuse to get away from the desk and out pounding the pavement for steps. The Napanee River front trail is a nice spot and often ends up as the default course but it is lacking in a lot of ways. As visually appealing as it is, there are not many steps required to get from one end to the other. It also doesn’t really loop around. And let’s face it; if the goal of getting out to walk is to break up the monotony, taking the same path day after day can get redundant. But all things considered, it’s better than nothing.

Ideally the town, working in partnership with both those in favour and those opposed, can find a way to make this new idea work. The pandemic has highlighted the need and desire for ways for residents to get active while remaining close to home in a cost effective manner. With just a few minor tweaks, this proposed path could be a real gem for the entire community.

-Adam Prudhomme

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