UXBRIDGE: Members of the Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association received support from Council on Monday, April 25 to continue with a clean-up and restoration of Uxbridge Countryside Preserve starting next month.
The Countryside Preserve Trail features 140-acres of rolling meadowland, woodlands, ponds, and wetland established on the Oak Ridges Moraine. It features 6kms of multi-use marked trails that the UHA believes could use some work.
“We walked the trail a number of times and looked at all the things that could be improved,” stated David Walker, Vice President of the Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association.
According to Walker, the Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association along with the Uxbridge Preserve Subcommittee identified several improvements that could be made to improve the state of the trails. These include: removing old fence wire that serves as an obstacle, adding gravel to improve drainage as well as stabilize and reduce erosion of trails, and clean-up access points including the main entrance.
The UHA has been around since 1986, and has been a part of several community events such as, the Santa Clause parade, food drives, and the Uxbridge Fair. The club also holds yearly events and donates the funds to the local community.
“We as a user group wanted to contribute back to the value of the trails,” said Mr, Walker. “The horses use them, the riders love them, and it’s a great place and great trail system, so we came up with a plan.”
In order for the association to complete the maintenance of the Preserve, they would have to work under the township’s insurance umbrella.
While most of the councillors seemed to approve of the proposal, Uxbridge Mayor, Gerri Lynn O’Connor did have some concerns regarding horses using the community preserve.
“Don’t get me wrong here, but I really am concerned about horses using the preserve because that’s the main walking trails that we see kids on and I also have a grave concern about horses and dogs,” said Mayor O’Connor. “The dogs are running crazy. I have the concern of what happens if a dog went after a horse?”
The UHA assured the Mayor that they will be ramping up efforts to educate the public on the potential danger of horses co-existing with hikers and their dogs.
“We are working to educate other riders, as you know I have a trail training center with certain obstacles so you can prepare your horse for being taken out in public,” said David Walker.
The UHA went on to argue that conflict will always exist when multiple user groups use the same trails, but those encounters are rare.
“When do we stop saying no to things that people want to do to enjoy their lives in the community?” said Mr. Walker.
He went on to explain that the UHA want to continue to feel like they are a part of the community and should be allowed to do so as long as proper education and training is maintained.
The assurance from the Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association on focusing on safety seemed to alleviate some of the concern from Council. “I do believe that horses should have the right to as many trails as possible,” said the Mayor.
The UHA was eventually granted insurance from the Township to continue with the proposed clean-up plan as long as the maintenance is supervised by the Parks Department.
They plan to begin the process on Tuesday, May 17 and Wednesday, May 18, with alternate rain dates of Wednesday, May 25 and Thursday May 26.
For more information on the Uxbridge Countryside Preserve, visit: www.town.uxbridge.on.ca/trail_maps.
For more information about the Uxbridge Horsemen’s Association, go on-line to their web-site at: www.uxbridgehorsemen.com.