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Sherway Trail Link

HOME FORUM RIDING GREATER TORONTO AREA ETOBICOKE CREEK Sherway Trail Link

This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  skyguy 3 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #814115

    braindamaged
    Participant
    #814116

    fietser
    Participant

    Hey @braindamaged I sense that you are not thrilled by this, but I could be reading into it.

    What, if anything, are you concerned about?

    When this news first broke I tweeted to the Councillor,TRCA and CoT to suggest this would be an ideal time to incorporate some kind of filter to prevent Motos from accessing the trails North of the bridge since many of them come from South of the bridge. Needless to say I heard nothing back from them.

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

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    #814118

    braindamaged
    Participant

    I do agree that having the paved path continue to Sherway is good progress.

    Now my problem would be if they want to push through north and connect with the paved path in the northern loop south of Eglinton. I wouldn’t want to see the entire southern loop disappear, unless they route the path through the dog park then I wouldn’t care.

    #814119

    FastTimes
    Keymaster

    I have recently spoke with my Councillor (John Campbell) about the trails but my ward (Ward 4) only touches a sliver of the trails. Here are the wards. http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=2394fe17e5648410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

    The main Councillors that can play a role are:

    Mark Grimes Ward 6
    Justin Di Ciano Ward 5
    Stephen Holyday Ward 3

    That last one, Ward 3, is where my Councillor advised me to start and I am going to reach out to try and setup a meeting. While he probably isn’t involved with the Sherway Trail link, that’s already happening and with no group to advocate for off-road cyclists, likely not going to change.

    The northern loop already has paved or gravel paths from Burnhamthorpe pretty much all the way to Brampton. An extension was also added this year: http://bramptonist.com/brampton-receives-325k-cycling-connection/

    The reason why off-road cyclist need to be heard here is made evident in the following quote:

    “The hope is the trail will eventually be extended on both ends, south to the Waterfront Trail in Mississauga, and north to the Greenbelt Trail in Caledon.”

    It’s pretty much done in the northern loop but that should be an indication of the big picture. It will be rad on the cross bike to connect to my Caledon loop, but not so much for our singletrack. If we let them, they’ll pave the whole thing.

    #814128

    fietser
    Participant

    @braindamaged I completely agree that it would great to see no more pavement show up in the Creek. Obviously, the great irony is that there is so much talk about conservation and preservation yet they are looking to rip a paved path up the middle of a Ravine…

    Fact is that Sherway Trail Link has been on the books for ever – at least the ten years that I have lived in the neighbourhood. TRCA has had mocked up drawings for almost as long (one that I saw had a trailhead with an info kiosk right near the old bridge) really nice looking stuff. Allegedly, the funds were to come from Section 37 money collected from the developer of the Sherway Towers if that gives any indication of how long these things take. There was also a huge debacle about whose land it was an transference of said land etc.

    As far as the continuation of the path is concerned there has long been a push by the TRCA, among others, for connectivity (see also the Humber) to get people from the lake to the headwaters of the waterways. However, there are many obstacles along the Etobicoke Creek that will likely never see a true ‘pathway’ as such. Take the stretch between Queensway and Dundas, most of it is far too constrained to put in a path – I mean, anything is possible but ecologically (and financially) it seems like a stretch – I can only imagine the number of EA studies that would be required for something of this magnitude. It would likely require multiple bridges in order to complete the project and then there is the question of Markland Woods Golf Course etc. As you said, it could in theory go along the dog park but that is in Mississauga so another municipality in the mix.

    Here is a thread and a link from a while ago that sheds a little more light on the process which has already begun:
    (https://www.ridingfeelsgood.com/topic/toronto-bike-infrastructure-planning/)
    You can scroll down on the link in the first post and there is some information about the plans for the Etobicoke Creek as well as a contact person at the City

    Along with your Councillors to contact list I recommend you get in touch with the Etobicoke Mimico Watershed Coalition (https://trca.ca/conservation/watershed-management/etobicoke-mimico-creek/coalition/) they are the ones who ultimately hold the most power in these things from my experience. This would be a name to get in touch with, Vince D’Elia, Project Manager at vdelia@trca.on.ca – great guy.

    @fasttimes I would be curious to hear what Councillor Holyday (and DiCiano) have to say about trails, and bikes in general – doesn’t seem like the most bike friendly pair of councillors, but I could be wrong. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/here-we-go-again-etobicoke-councillor-to-present-motion-on-bicycle-licensing-1.3672887) Don’t want to paint them with one brush but Holyday has been on about that tax (which has since been turned down) for some time now.

    Needless to say lots of wheels in motion here.

    #814159

    fietser
    Participant

    This all may be sooner than later. Noticed paint on the ground and obvious sign of surveying in the area around and under the QEW bridge tonight.

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    #814213

    fietser
    Participant

    Had a minute to look this up finally. I knew I had laid eyes on it at some point.

    http://trca.on.ca/dotAsset/174547.pdf

    Take note of the alignment which is a ‘change’ from the current trail which runs through that area.

    #814339

    skyguy
    Participant

    Hey guys, thought I’d drop in again to help shed some light on these projects.

    A few topics are happening here, so I’ll try to summarize each:

    1. Sherway Trail:
    Fietser is generally correct on his comments (very astute of you! ). This project has been on the books for a long time, and indeed they are looking to move on it sooner rather than later. The reason is Toronto and TRCA will have to wait for the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) if they don’t go ahead now. By now, I mean “Spring 2017”. Construction won’t happen this year, it’s too late in the season to start. MTO is planning on QEW upgrades, and they call the shots. Toronto and TRCA will have to bend to MTO’s will. But if Toronto can move quick, then they don’t have to sit around for another couple years waiting to build the trail.

    The trail will be of a similar standard (3.0m wide, asphalt) to what’s done on the southern portion to Marie Curtis. The trail layout will pick up just south of the QEW by the ball fields, and generally follow the singletrack northward, under the QEW. But it’ll head west rather than east (splitting off from the singletrack) and connect to Sherway Road. The reason for this is true, the City wants to make “connections” to other path networks. They won’t go further north though. There simply isn’t enough space, it’ll do environmental damage, and cost too much money. Further, the City’s notion of an “off-road” trail is not biker’s notion of “off-road’. An off-road trail to the City is simply that; it is not ON the road. An off-road trail can be asphalt or gravel, but it will be fairly wide, accessible and generally minimal slope. North of Sherway Road cannot meet these criteria either, so it’ll stay as is. Also, the City can then claim they’ve “connected” to other pathways, and there will be no reason whatsoever to continue in the valley/creek area further north.

    This is a relatively easy, inexpensive, high-return (politically and functionally) for their work. It’ll address commuting, recreational, and general biking usage, and the reality is it really won’t affect the Etobicoke Creek singletrack except for a few hundred metres of mostly grassy trail anyways. So MTB’ers can still do as always, and it should also help reduce the motorized MX use as well. Overall, it’s generally a win-win for everyone, with little to lose for MTB’ers.

    2. Etobicoke Creek North
    I talked to the MTO very recently and they mentioned they’re apparently planning on doing structural work at the 401 area of Etobicoke Creek, starting in 2017 or 2018. It’ll only be for the duration of the bridge work, and then they’ll return the access to the current configuration. Not sure they’ve publicized this very much, but they’ll have to maintain existing access, so in all likelihood they’ll divert the main trail up to street level, across, and then back in. Keep in mind, this shouldn’t affect singletrack on the valley sides, just the “main” gravel/asphalt trail directly under the bridge structure.

    More importantly, the City of Brampton will be constructing the final missing link of Etobicoke Creek Trail in Spring/Summer 2017. This will join the top end of Mississauga near Drew Road, under the 407, under the 410, and into the land behind the Powerade Centre. Cyclists will then be able to continue on the existing trail, northward, and into Caledon. The City of Brampton constructed a gravel trail connection into Caledon this summer, allowing users to go theoretically from Caledon, to Brampton, to Mississauga, to Waterfront Trail, ultimately to Niagara-on-the Lake (if they have the legs LOL) by Summer/Fall 2017. That’s a very big deal. It also means cyclists coming from Etobicoke via the Humber Trail will then have access across the area around the airport, and into downtown Brampton. So anyone looking for a long CX ride or commuting will finally have a safe, off-road route.

    The reality is the formal portion of this Etobicoke Creek Trail will be a mixture of asphalt and gravel, fairly flat, and a very nice experience. It will not affect any of the singletrack, as those will remain untouched. Again, this will be a case of the “visible” trail (runners, bikers, etc) versus the “invisible” trail (MTB’ers, singletrack). So, while Etobicoke Creek Trail will technically be expanded and connected, it is only the main trail, not the side trails, singletrack, etc. Those will all remain as is, in their current state.

    Vince d’Elia at the TRCA will be the Project Manager for the Sherway Trail project, and he’s also involved with the north and Caledon portions as well. He’s actually an avid cyclist (MTB and some roadie) and he’s very aware of the MTB situation in Etobicoke Creek. Of course he does represent the TRCA in the “official” day-to-day work, but being a rider he also understands the “informal” situation. Great guy, approachable, and can answer any questions about trails in the Etobicoke Creek area and Humber watershed jurisdiction.

    In the end, I think expanding trails encourages more people to cycle, offers people better and safer ways to commute to work by bike, get out and explore the cities and natural areas, and helps foster taking responsibility of caring for the land around us. In this particular case, it’s a win-win for many people of various intentions, and it shouldn’t adversely affect the current MTB crowd much at all. I truly think this is A Good Thing.

    #814345

    fietser
    Participant

    Hey @skyguy thanks for dropping by again – always great to hear the inside line. In fact, it would be awesome if more municipalities or staff took the time to engage the community in such a way. But that is another topic.

    Thanks for the ‘astute’ compliment but I would rather chalk it up to being engaged and perhaps more importantly, knowing where to look. I also work for a large public system and am well versed in bureaucracy, so called ‘transparency’ and hoop jumping. Sadly, due to a variety of reasons many people are SOL on both accounts. However, I feel that it is most likely due to the lack of interest in advocacy after being stonewalled at every attempt (we had a discussion about that on the CoM and the Creek thread awhile back). The fact is that I have seen the inside of the sausage and it isn’t pretty – we don’t have a leg to stand on here in the GTA where bikes are concerned. Heck, we have people who actually work for the municipalities on trails who say just keep on riding them and don’t ‘poke the bear’. With out significant change from within we have no game – to me it is simple as that. It is all very disheartening and quite frankly, like so many before me, I have little fight left. But I digress.

    Funny enough the alignment (as you mention and depicted in the TRCA link I posted) is actually the original trail alignment from when I first started riding in the Creek years ago. There was a small wooden ladder bridge that had been built across that small inlet stream and the a series of stones after that. It has all since been washed away.

    Ironically, while I see the paths as a positive step towards safer commutes (My wife and I both use the Etobicoke Creek trail to commute so I get it) the increased number of users will also put increased stress on the actual Ravines themselves. This was a huge topic of discussion when I sat on the Toronto Ravine Management Strategy Advisory Committee. Put it this way, while travelling along the paved path casual ‘off road’ riders may choose to check out that dirt trail that leads off into the woods that they may not have otherwise found. Which is great to grow the sport – but not great for a trail systems that is being maintained by a small group of rogues volunteers. With no checks and balances on how to deal with an increase in users this seems to be a potential lose-lose situation for the MTB crowd. Like the trails get trashed and then as a result get shut down kinda lose….

    Trailforks, I imagine you are familiar with it, for the Etobicoke Creek is a good example of what I am talking about. Since the trails were posted on TF it has opened a huge floodgate of people on the trails. The App allows unlimited map access to a (non-sanctioned) trail system for anyone, which seems great, but at this point, there is no way of connecting them with the community who is trying their best to maintain these trail. An outside agency with in my opinion no vested interest other than growing their platform has made it easier for more people to access the trails (maps of non-legitimate trails) with no check or balance to how that increased usage will ultimately affect the trails. Curious as someone who works for a municipality around trails and also mountain bikes in the Creek thinks about this. Would love to hear your opinion on the matter.

    Lastly, I am curious when you say that the link ‘ should also help reduce the motorized MX use as well.’ How do you see the link helping to reduce the MX users?

    #814354

    skyguy
    Participant

    Fietser,

    You bring up some excellent points, and you certainly have far more intimate knowledge of the trail and surrounding area than I do. My involvement is more recent, and while I now try to ride the creek somewhat regularly, my knowledge is much more “academic”. Seeing everyone’s passion and comments here is very encouraging, and does help provide me with much better insight into what municipalities need to improve upon, and what discussions need to take place.

    I certainly cannot speak for other municipal employees, politicians, law-makers, and officials, but I will say that I have seen an improvement during my time “in the field”, so to speak. You are absolutely right; there are differences, and there are things that have stayed the same, and there are things that may not change. I can say that I have seen more discussion and awareness happening “behind the scenes”, and I think that is a very good thing. The fact that more people are talking about cycling, trails, and the issues surrounding them, I believe, will lead to more informed decisions and (hopefully) smarter solutions. Are there still people who are oblivious, don’t care, don’t try, and don’t want to? Yes. But I do see more people trying to understand. I see people at the Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, TRCA, and MTO now asking better questions. Sure, there’s still a long way to go, but at least a more productive discussion is happening in many instances. The Mayor of Brampton recently went on public record at the Brampton/Caledon trail connection opening, as advocating for more trails, better trails, better accessibility, and improving healthy lifestyles through active transportation. That is A Big Deal, and don’t underestimate the power of political will, particularly when it’s on your side.

    In terms of helping to reduce the MX users, my comments are based on “educated guess and experience”, not empirical fact. What municipalities have seen over recent years, is that when something hidden is opened up to the public at large, properly designed, promoted, and maintained, typically the unauthorized use tends to stop. Not always, but usually. Expanding the Sherway link, in this case, will certainly promote increased usage by those who might normally stop coming up from Marie Curtis. It will encourage more people to head north and then east/west, and I fully expect we will see increased use. That is by design, and not necessarily a bad thing. In this instance, the City’s operations staff can then justify patrolling the trail link on a semi-regular basis, looking for unauthorized use (ie-MX riders). But here’s the more important thing: Residents can then complain to the City and Councillors about unauthorized MX users, and the City will HAVE to do something about it, because the Sherway trail connection will be “officially” recognized by the City. Right now, it’s not an “official” trail, even though we all know it’s there. But once the City/TRCA builds that link, they will be absolutely COMPELLED to monitor its proper use.

    So here’s the key: ask the City if motorized use is sanctioned? (it’s not). Tell them there’s motorized users there and that you’re very concerned about your safety, and that you want it investigated and expect a response. They will HAVE TO respond. It may not be fast, but they’ll have to. TRCA went through the exact same thing with the City of Brampton and ATV users. Once Brampton got complaints to the councillors, they made City staff take care of the problem. TRCA got involved and they addressed (and fixed) the ATV issue. It took about a year, but it got done. So………once the Sherway trail connection goes in, look at it as an opportunity to get the City to fix the MX problem. They won’t be able to ignore it because they’ll be concerned about liability if someone gets hurt. The minute you put a complaint into writing to the local councillor, they’ll have NO CHOICE but to address the problem to show they’re not at fault if something happens and, say, a trail user gets hit by an MX user. It doesn’t matter if the MX users aren’t riding in the exact same spot on the same trail connection; they’re in the same vicinity, nobody can prove the MX guys AREN’T using the trail, and the City will HAVE TO address and fix the MX user issue. Trust me, that’s how the system works inside the fishbowl, and that’s how it can get taken care of. So in that sense, it’s actually a win-win, not a lose-lose for MTB’ers.

    Regarding Trailforks, I am indeed familiar with it. I use it on occasion to check into various trails, do research, find other riding places. In fact, Trailforks was extremely useful for my ride through Dundas Valley and Christie Lake last week. I had never been there before, and it’s easy to get lost around there. It saved my butt a few times, and I had an absolutely epic ride on a gorgeous autumn day out there. I’ll be heading back there again when I get the chance. It was very popular, with many hikers (and riders) enjoying nature.

    And that leads to your excellent point about the popularity of trails vs protecting them (I’m over-simplifying here). It’s a double-edged sword that I’m very familiar with, as I’ve struggled with this both personally and professionally in my career for a long time. I’ve advocated for installing trails where they don’t currently (formally) exist, and I am often asked, “Aren’t you doing more damage to the environment by encouraging more people to go there?” It’s a valid question, I think what is perhaps being alluded to by the Trailforks issue, and it’s not an easy answer. However, sometimes by expanding trail networks and usage, less damage/impact is done because people can use trails in the manner they were designed, rather than carving their own trails through even more sensitive areas. Trails tend to focus usage along paths of “least” impact, rather than allowing anyone to go anywhere and cause more problems. The other reason, or perhaps argument, since it’s not universally considered “fact”, is that nature can be smartly used for recreational purposes. That people have a desire to enjoy nature, and in so doing, can improve their overall health and lifestyles. The challenge, however, is educating people that there are better (and not so better) ways of promoting activities in environmentally sensitive areas (within reason), and understanding that by doing so, usage will increase, thereby posing the potential to damage what is trying to be protected.

    It’s no easy task, and your comments are exactly the type of thinking that is needed; responsible concern and thought to ask the right questions and seek the better answers. More of that is needed, and educating people is a primary way of doing that. It’s not easy, and it does take time, but like I said, I am seeing evidence of change. So I would encourage anyone, including those here, to take some comfort in the fact that you ARE making a difference. It may be difficult to see or realize, especially when someone isn’t on the “inside of the sausage” and feels frustrated. Yes, there is considerable resistance to change, and there is plenty of stupidity to go around, but I honestly think that’s starting to change. It’s not perfect, it’s not enough, but it’s a start.

    So, I guess my point is, to simply say Thank You to all of you who work tirelessly for change and improvement. That’s also why I wanted to stop by and jump into this topic with an update and summary; to show that there are many sides to the issue, but that your passion and advocacy isn’t unnoticed. The system is far from perfect, but I think you got the right idea, are asking the right questions, and pushing the right buttons overall. And to please keep it up and work towards the big picture, as it were. 🙂

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