SUDBURY CITY HALL

'People care about these trails': Sudbury high school students tell city

A group of high school students in Sudbury Ont., are vowing to save a section of trails from being destroyed by a major construction proposal — even if that means they have to tie themselves up to trees.

Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School students launch Change.org petition against proposed South Bay Road extension

Left to right: Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School students Josh Tillson, Allison Caswell, Kelly Thompson and Kate Richards are petitioning the City of Greater Sudbury and Mayor Brian Bigger to kill a proposal that would extend South Bay Road through Laurentian trails. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)
A group of high school students in Sudbury Ont., are vowing to save a section of trails from being destroyed by a major construction proposal — even if that means they have to tie themselves up to trees. 

"We love those trails there," said Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School Grade 11 student Josh Tillson.

"They're our home almost and like we spend so much time there. It would be huge if we were to lose them."

Tillson and his friends recently launched a Change.org petition to stop the proposed extension of South Bay Road, which would create a second access way to Laurentian University.

They are afraid the project will pave over a section of popular Laurentian trails that are regularly used for skiing and running, and just a short walk from Lo-Ellen. 

"We thought like we need to do something to let them [council] know that people care about these trails," Grade 11 student Kelly Thompson said. 

"I essentially learned how to ski on the Laurentian trails, so it's played a key part of my life," Grade 12 student Kate Richards said.

Laurentian University president Dominic Giroux has signed the appeal, as the university does not support a road through that area. 

Mayor calls petition 'helpful'

Mayor Brian Bigger, however, would not state his opinion on the project because he said he is still waiting for more information about social, economic and environmental factors. 

But he thanks the community for the feedback.

"I think the democratic process is working as designed," Bigger told CBC.

"This is helpful to the city councillors and the mayor's office to understand all of the concerns, and how strongly people feel about preservation of their trail system," he added.
Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger said a petition against the city's proposed South Bay Road extension helps council understand how strongly people feel about trail preservation. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

The city could widen Ramsey Lake Road instead of extending South Bay Road or create a different connection, according to the city's director of roads, David Shelsted, but another study needs to be done before that decision is made. 

Tillson and his friends plan to attend next Tuesday's council meeting to build up momentum for their cause. They have already sent letters to councillors asking for support. 

"We're hoping that kind of sways their opinion," Grade 12 student Alison Caswell said.

"[The trail is] kind of a special part of Sudbury and I wouldn't want to see a road destroy it."

About the Author

Olivia Stefanovich

Reporter

Olivia Stefanovich is a network reporter for CBC News based in Toronto. She previously worked in Saskatchewan and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @CBCOlivia. Send story ideas to olivia.stefanovich@cbc.ca.