Lanark County has signed on to to a $500,000 deal with two other counties to buy the abandoned CPR rail line that runs through Mississippi Mills and communities north and south of here.
The plan is to convert it into a 296 km-long recreational trail.
Lanark was joined by the counties of Renfrew and Papineau-Cameron in the line’s purchase, which extends from Smiths Falls through to Petawawa. The last of the line’s tracks were stripped from our area in 2012, and since then it has been marked with ‘private property’ warnings from CPR.
Mayor Shaun McLaughlin and Councillor Jane Torrance have asked for a future Council agenda item that would allow discussion on how the trail should be used, how the public can give feedback, and what “leasehold improvements” each municipality will be allowed.
Mayor McLaughlin was quoted by the CBC today as saying, “I’d like to see as much non-motorized use of it as possible… I don’t mind a mixed trail, as long as it’s truly a mixed trail.” He said he would prefer to see the focus stay on hikers and cyclists.
But Bill Dobson, the reeve of Montague Township, has a different view. The CBC reports:
“[Dobson] said it would be unfair to keep snowmobilers and ATV riders off the trail.
“From the beginning when we started planning this, we planned it as if it was going to be a multipurpose trail for everybody,” said Dobson. “It’s everybody’s taxes and I think it should be used by everybody.”
The CBC quotes Renfrew County warden Peter Emon as saying, “My personal position is that it remain a trail for walking and cycling.” Lanark County warden Gail Code said, “I really think we have to keep it open to everyone that wants to use it. For economic reasons, we have to broaden it. There’s a lot of people on four-wheelers.”