COLLEEN BASKIN, Communication Officer, Township of Uxbridge
UXBRIDGE: On Friday, April 8th, Peter Bethlenfalvy, Pickering-Uxbridge MPP and Minister of Finance, as well as John Henry, Regional Chair, Mayor of Uxbridge, Dave Barton, Deputy Mayor of Uxbridge, Willie Popp, and other dignitaries joined Greenbelt Foundation’s CEO, Edward McDonnell and guests for a trail unveiling event at Uxbridge’s South Balsam Trail. Attendees enjoyed a hike through the picturesque trail system, pausing to enjoy the newly installed interpretive trail signs and learn more about the important natural heritage features of the region.
Supported by the Greenbelt Foundation, improvements to the trail will allow year-round access for local residents and tourists alike, and enhanced signage will highlight specific features of the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine, where Uxbridge is located. The trail improvement project promotes the benefits of outdoor recreation and being in nature, such as increased mental and physical well-being and a deeper understanding of and connection to the land.
“The Township of Uxbridge is designated as the Trail Capital of Canada, serving thousands of local and non-local hikers, cyclists, equestrians, skiers, and lovers of nature, with over 300 km of trails,” says Peter Bethlenfalvy, Pickering-Uxbridge MPP and Minister of Finance. “Like numerous other local governments, the Township has seen a dramatic increase in the number of park users and trail system traffic during the pandemic.”
At a time when more Ontarians than ever are getting out in the Greenbelt, this trail provides much-needed recreational opportunities. According to recent Greenbelt Foundation research, approximately 3.7 million people travelled to a Greenbelt destination to engage in a nature-based activity between July 2020 and August 2021. Those surveyed said they spent 50 percent more time than usual participating in walking or hiking, 39 percent more time cycling, and 35 percent more time bird watching in that one-year period.
“Improvements to Uxbridge’s trail system not only encourage active recreation, but also encourage residents to learn more about the natural heritage that surrounds them, such as the distinctive features of the Oak Ridges Moraine,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of Greenbelt Foundation. “The Oak Ridges Moraine is an iconic and critically important natural feature of southern Ontario, and a unique ecological and geographical feature of the Greenbelt.”
The South Balsam Trail runs partially along Uxbridge Brook and is accessible to both strollers and wheelchairs. This perfect family walk offers benches for peaceful relaxation and access to a pond and children’s playground. The Township’s extensive trail system is a central part of its identity and tourism strategy, which also promotes wider experiences, including local food and beverage culinary destinations.
“I love the new trail signs that help to educate our trail users about the importance of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the diverse ecosystem it supports. This partnership with the Greenbelt Foundation helps both residents and visitors to our community explore our trails and appreciate them. Thank you for the continued support to help make the Trail Capital of Canada more user-friendly and welcoming.” shared Mayor Dave Barton, Township of Uxbridge
Courtney Clarke, Parks and Trails Manager, Township of Uxbridge, added, “Visitors to Township Trails appreciate the new trail signage, informative posters enroute, and improved directional and parking signage. The South Balsam Trail surface improvements have made it much more attractive and user-friendly. We are grateful to the Greenbelt Foundation for their support of our local trail initiatives.”