WOLFVILLE, NS - It will inspire more residents to get involved in active transportation and it will attract tourists, resulting in positive economic spinoffs for the entire Valley.
The New Minas to Grand Pre section of the Harvest Moon Trailway was officially opened with a celebration and ribbon cutting in Wolfville on Oct. 14. This included a group jog, bike or walk.
Annapolis Valley Trails Coalition chairwoman Beth Pattillo said the section between New Minas and Grand Pre is the last part of the 110 km trail to be officially opened. The trail is now physically connected from Grand Pre to Annapolis Royal.
“This has been 20 years in the making for the volunteers and the trails community throughout the Valley,” Pattillo said. “It’s a dream come true and the last portion, we probably just finished it a week ago, is the Wolfville to Grand Pre section.”
She said there’s still a lot of work to be done with regard to amenities, interpretational signage and surface upgrades. Pattillo said this is the next step to getting the trail up to so-called “destination trail standards.” Over the next year, they plan on connecting some schools, outlying areas and communities into the trail with spur lines or off chutes.
She said there are plans to work with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and landowners to extend the trail further to the east and west but this will take time. It could someday become part of the Trans Canada Trail with a movement afoot to extend it as far as Halifax.
Pattillo said trails like this encourage people to be outside, giving them a safe place away from traffic to walk, run, jog or cycle. There’s also a great economic benefit to the entire Valley, as the trail will serve as a tourist attraction.
Cora Mae Morse of Grand Pre biked to Wolfville for the official opening. She said her neighbours, Jamie Robertson and Marcel Morin of the Grand Pre Trails Society, worked very hard on the project. She wanted to be there to show her support for their efforts.
Morse said she’s “absolutely delighted” to see the trail established as far as Grand Pre and she plans to make use of it. It will serve as an incentive to become more involved in active transportation. She said the old parking lot at the Grand Pre National Historic Site was full of cars with bicycle racks the first day the trail opened.
Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell said he’s been using the trail regularly. With it now connected from Annapolis Royal to Grand Pre, he looks at it as a smaller, Acadian version of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Connecting one historic site with another, he called it a “tremendous recognition” of the Acadian culture.
Cantwell, Wolfville Deputy Mayor Carl Oldham and others plan to bike the entire 110 km distance the first week in November.
Oldham said it’s fantastic to see the final section of the trail opened. It will serve as a great family attraction and an economic driver for Wolfville. The trail augments the area’s fine restaurants, burgeoning wine industry and other existing amenities.
Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison, Kings South MLA Keith Irving, County of Kings Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz and Cantwell spoke at the opening and took part in the ribbon cutting ceremony. Contributions from all three levels of government helped make the trail a reality.