PEI

P.E.I.'s Bonshaw Hills trail provides Plan B consolation

The Bonshaw Hills trail system has become a silver lining from the controversial Plan B highway alignment, says the executive director of Island Nature Trust.

Hikers, cyclists flocking to popular trail system

The Bonshaw Hills trail system has become a silver lining from the controversial Plan B highway re-alignment, says the executive director of Island Nature Trust.

"That is one very positive thing that came out of that whole stressful process," said Megan Harris.

"Having this expanded park system is something that is a great public benefit and is one that that grew out of that process but required a lot of goodwill in order for that to happen."

Funding and implementing the trail system was part of a compromise in 2013 when the P.E.I. government realigned 6.2 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway between Bonshaw and New Haven.

The highway project, which became known as Plan B, was met with widespread opposition from environmental groups, including Island Nature Trust.

Part of a movement?

The Bonshaw Hills trail system is expected to be 30 km long by the end of the year. (Laura Meader/CBC)

But the government's commitment to manage and protect environmentally sensitive land parcels acquired as part of Plan B, including the Bonshaw Hills trail, has provided some consolation.

Hikers and cyclists have been flocking to the trail since it opened this spring.

Harris, who also serves on a subcommittee that oversees the trail project, said it's not uncommon to see "well over 20 cars" in the parking lot on weekends.

People are looking for opportunities to get outside and be active recreationally.– Megan Harris

"It normally takes awhile for people to find these places, but in this case word of mouth spread very rapidly," she said.

"I get the sense there is a movement toward active living on the Island. People are looking for opportunities to get outside and be active recreationally. A lot of those individuals had to go off-Island to find a place like this."

Proceeding with caution

The trails at Bonshaw are popular with cyclists as well as hikers. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Albert Flavell, who built the trails at Robinson's Island, is also building the trails at Bonshaw.

Harris expects the trail to be 30 km long by the end of the year and include a connector to the trails at Strathgartney.

There are also plans to install composting toilets at the entrance and inside the trail.

Harris said most people have been respectful of the land.

"We are being cautious to minimize the environmental damage, but there is always a tradeoff," she said.

A public meeting regarding the Bonshaw Hills trail, and the adjoining Bonshaw provincial day park, will be held May 25 at 7 p.m. at the Bonshaw Community Centre.

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