Rethink or extend the Ganatchio Trail? Proposal sparks dueling advocacy groups

A group in Tecumseh is pushing back against those fighting the extension of the Ganatchio Trail. 

Extend the Trail group says it's getting lots of community support

Two advocacy groups have emerged regarding the proposed extension of the Ganatchio Trail in Tecumseh — one for the project and one against. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

A group is pushing back against those fighting the extension of the Ganatchio Trail in Tecumseh.

The group Extend the Trail popped up in response to Rethink the Trail, a group fighting a proposed 2.4-kilometre extension of the trail from its current end near the Windsor boundary east to Lakewood Park.

One of the founders, Wess Bechard, said the Extend the Trail members are outdoor enthusiasts who are focused on building pathways and connecting communities.

"We simply feel that a very vocal minority should not be delaying or stopping this project from moving forward," he told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Friday.

Rethink The Trail argues the proposed extension would be unsafe given all the driveways it would pass through. Some of those opposed live on Riverside Drive, and the trail is slated to run in front of their homes.

The group is calling on the Town of Tecumseh to consider other options. 

Bechard said the trail would provide a new, safe way for residents to get to Lakewood Park and experience the connected parks system.

"The needs of active transportation are only on the rise, and we believe this project will provide the trail extension that will be used by families, neighbours and all Tecumseh residents to enjoy for decades to come," he said.

The plan to lengthen the trail is one part of the County Wide Active Transportation System, which aims to create an 800 kilometre network of trails and paths, linking seven local municipalities.

Tecumseh Town Council is expected to receive a consultant's report this spring exploring options to extend the trail.

A map showing the proposed extension of the Ganatchio trail is shown in a 2017 report to Tecumseh Town Council. (Bezaire Partners/Town of Tecumseh)

Bechard said there's been a lot of community support for the new group and and he believes the opposition boils down to "not in my front yard" sentiment rather than concern over other issues.

The group is fundraising to create signs for trail supporters, much like opponents of the trail are displaying their own signs.

John Parent of Rethink The Trail previously told Windsor Morning the group has done its homework and spoken to experts. They think the current proposal is flawed.

"We're not against building trails, in fact we support the connectivity in our community and we really are here just to challenge the town to look at best practices and let's do this right," he said in an interview on Feb. 26.

"Let's do this so it's going to be safe. Let's do it so it's not going to be an impact on the community."

More from CBC Windsor

With files from Windsor Morning


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