Cycling trail users sum up productive year, plan active 2020
Pontiac Journal Staff
The non-profit users’ committee for Pontiac’s cycling trail, Les ami(e)s du Cycloparc PPJ, summed up a very active year, January 13, as the organization completed its annual meeting at the Lotus Clinic in Shawville. AGM Chair Lynne Lavery reported fourteen in attendance.
Year 2019 started with plans for weekly rides along the trail. But with the MRC Pontiac’s decision in April to strike another committee to study sharing the trail with ATVs, the club shifted focus, contacted Vélo Québec which manage the Quebec-wide Route verte system, and launched a campaign to inform the MRC mayors and the public of legal and libel issues, plus health and safety threats to trail users if motorized vehicles were approved.
This campaign, between May and November, saw members attending the MRC council meetings with presentations, other regions’ experiences, and questions for the mayors; an online and Pontiac-wide petition objecting to the plan gathered about 1,500 signatures. Les Amis’ media campaign brought Radio Canada / CBC to interview members and Warden Toller. Members lobbied municipal councils, receiving resolutions from Bristol, Shawville, Clarendon, Thorne, Portage-du-Fort and L’Ile-du-Grand-Calumet to maintain the trail within the Route verte, which provides about $120,000 per year to the MRC. On other fronts, Les Amis worked with Chantal Lair, the MRC’s tourism officer, on a promotional video and the annual trail count required by Vélo Québec. The Cycloparc PPJ’s Business and Services Directory was updated and reprinted to promote business along the trail; members volunteered with Pontiac’s Terry Fox run-ride-walk in September and, in October, attended the Congrès de l’Association des reseaux cyclables du Québec, in Granby, Qc, bringing back details and recommendations to the MRC mayors about how other areas are benefitting from and expanding their trail networks.
Despite this effort, Pontiac’s trail remains under threat. As well, a member with a business on the trail reported his difficulties in communicating with the Warden on the threats this poses to his operation. He has engaged a lawyer. In addition, a group of cottagers from Devonshire Park, outside Davidson, added their legal concerns – loss of property values and safety threats.
Next year’s board was elected, with two new directors: Nathalie Swanson, Cathy Welsh, Lynne Lavery, Bonnie Tubman-Zimmerling and John Petty. Plans for 2020 include the weekly rides, cooperation with tourism operators to link with cycling clubs in Gatineau and Ottawa for group cycling tours and overnight trips, and working with the MRC Pontiac’s tourism development officer to improve promotion and with the MRC’s engineer for continued improvement to the trail. They anticipate cooperating with the MRC’s newly-created Sports and Leisure committee. The AGM concluded with a commitment to have Cycloparc PPJ remain as one of Pontiac’s public assets, available for cyclists, walkers and other users to enjoy in a healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly way.