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Community Partners

The Trail Research Hub undertakes research, education, and outreach
initiatives to support 
sustainable trail development, construction, and maintenance across Canada while establishing best practice guidelines
for trails governance and management. Much of our work involves
collaboration with and research in support of Community Partners.

 

Learn about our community partners, and their affiliated projects, below.

Current Community Partners

You can learn more about our current community partners, and their affiliated projects, below.

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Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club

Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club was started in 1998 by a rowdy bunch of highschoolers to race XC in Thunder Bay.  We have evolved over the years to promote the sport of mountain biking; running a series of fun events, races, regularly scheduled social rides, as well as building and maintain the trail network in Trowbridge Forest and Shuniah Mines.

Mountain biking is at an all-time high in Thunder Bay and the club is making its presence known in the community. A primary focus of the club today is trail development and improvement. We are currently working on completing the Trowbridge Forest Master Plan which will add an additional 15km+ of multi-use and mountain bike trails to our system. The new trails planned vary from multi-use trails, green level flow trails, to expert downhill gravity trails.  Make sure to check out the Trails page on our website and find out more about the work being done and how you can help out.

Blacksheep is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organization whose leadership team (Executive and Coordinators) is a group of volunteers dedicated to the practical and operational affairs of the Club. That includes everything from critical requirements like strategic planning, budgets, banking, insurance, risk management, and memberships, too much cooler responsibilities such as course setting, trail maintenance, and running events. The Blacksheep Leadership Team loves biking and racing, wants the sport of cycling to flourish in Thunder Bay and knows the Club is a key to achieving this vision.

  

Ongoing Project: Thunder Bay Region Mountain Bike User Survey

Hub Team: Harvey Lemelin and Kelsey Johansen.

 

Project Liaisons: Harvey Lemelin (Sponsorship Director), Blacksheep Mountain Biking Club

Learn More about the Project
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Grand Watershed Trail Network

The goal of the Grand Watershed Trails Network is to create a network of connected trails throughout the Grand River watershed, featuring the river itself as a signature trail. The network will include existing and new, land and water trails to form a unique recreational experience, highlighting natural, cultural and historical heritage in the area. The trails will connect communities, places of interest and activities. The network will also connect to other major regional trails, such as the Waterfront Trail, the Greenbelt Trail and the Bruce Trail.


The vision of the Grand Watershed Trails Network is to:
 

  • Develop the Grand River Watershed as a living storybook of adventure by partnering with all stakeholders to re-connect people and communities with the Grand River and each other, through intertwining trails on and off the river.

  • Be inclusive of everyone and accessible to people of all ages, interests, and abilities in all seasons.

  • Encourage community-focused cultural, heritage, educational, athletic, and spiritual events on and around the river, acknowledging Indigenous connections with the river.

  • Encourage people to live in harmony with the environment by allowing people to interact with nature and educating them about the ecological diversity of the watershed.

  • Encourage research into the heritage and ecology of the watershed.

 

You can view an interactive map of the proposed main trail and canoe access points here.

 

Ongoing Projects: Grand Watershed Trail-Based Recreation and Tourism Project.

Hub Team: Kelsey Johansen
 

Collaborators: Dr. Karla Boluk (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo), and Mikayla Stechnicki (Research Assistant, University of Waterloo).

Project Liaisons:  Anne Crowe (President), Grand Watershed Trail Network.

Past Community Partners

You can learn more about our past community partners, and their affiliated projects, below.

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Bruce Trails Conservancy

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Stretching 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory in southern Ontario, it provides the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 

 

The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is a member-driven, volunteer-based charitable organization committed to caring for the Bruce Trail and to preserving land along its route. The BTC is both a trail association and one of Ontario's largest land trusts. The BTC consists of nine Bruce Trail Clubs.

 

Each Club manages a section of the Bruce Trail and is responsible for maintaining, stewarding and promoting that section. The mission of the BTC is to create a permanent conservation corridor along the Niagara Escarpment that contains a public footpath. This was always intended to serve two purposes: to educate the public about the importance of natural spaces and conservation, and to save the Niagara Escarpment from the pressures of development. 

 

Currently approximately 69% of the Bruce Trail is considered ‘secure’, meaning that it exists on land that is either publicly owned or owned by the BTC. The remainder of the ‘unsecured’ portions of the trail exist on private land (through ‘handshake agreements’) or on roads.

 

Past Project: 2021 Ontario Trails ICD Projects (Bruce Trails Conservancy Social Media Tool Kit & Best Practices; Effective Communication with Trail Users Literature Review; and, COVID-19 and Trails Media Analysis).

Hub Team: Kelsey Johansen
 

Collaborator: Dr. Karla Boluk (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo). 

Project Liaisons:  Adam Brylowski (Manager of Conservation and Trail), and Brian Popelier (Land Stewardship Coordinator).

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Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail

The Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail Association is a not-for-profit organization coordinating the project in partnership with Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Ojibways of the Pic River) and the Town of Marathon. This project will allow fellow Canadians and visitors to explore our Canadian identity through the iconic painting locations of the Group of Seven.  The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of the most beautiful landscapes.  It so inspired the founding members of Canada’s internationally renowned Group of Seven that they made numerous painting trips (every autumn) to the Marathon area between 1921 and 1928.  

 

These painters discovered what our First Nations have known for thousands of years: the land bordering Lake Superior is a landscape of inspiration.  

 

The Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail will connect some of the painting sites of the Group of Seven from Pukaskwa National Park to Neys Provincial Park.

  

Ongoing Projects: Trails and Social Enterprise Research Project

Hub Team: Kelsey Johansen, Kirsten Spence, and Jane McCulloch.

Project Liaisons: Kirsten Spence (Project Coordinator), Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail.

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Hastings Destination Trails

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Stretching 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory in southern Ontario, it provides the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 

 

The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is a member-driven, volunteer-based charitable organization committed to caring for the Bruce Trail and to preserving land along its route. The BTC is both a trail association and one of Ontario's largest land trusts. The BTC consists of nine Bruce Trail Clubs.

 

Each Club manages a section of the Bruce Trail and is responsible for maintaining, stewarding and promoting that section. The mission of the BTC is to create a permanent conservation corridor along the Niagara Escarpment that contains a public footpath. This was always intended to serve two purposes: to educate the public about the importance of natural spaces and conservation, and to save the Niagara Escarpment from the pressures of development. 

 

Currently approximately 69% of the Bruce Trail is considered ‘secure’, meaning that it exists on land that is either publicly owned or owned by the BTC. The remainder of the ‘unsecured’ portions of the trail exist on private land (through ‘handshake agreements’) or on roads.

 

Past Project: 2021 Ontario Trails ICD Projects (Bruce Trails Conservancy Social Media Tool Kit & Best Practices; Effective Communication with Trail Users Literature Review; and, COVID-19 and Trails Media Analysis).

Hub Team: Kelsey Johansen
 

Collaborator: Dr. Karla Boluk (University of Waterloo). 

Project Liaisons:  Adam Brylowski (Manager of Conservation and Trail), and Brian Popelier (Land Stewardship Coordinator).

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The Hydrocut
(Waterloo Cycling Club)

The Hydrocut Trail system, located in Kitchener-Waterloo, is consistently ranked as the top mountain bike riding destination in Ontario (Singletracks.com, 2020). This free-to-ride trail system is not only popular with local mountain bikers but is also recognized across Canada for its 35km of flowing singletrack trails that offer an incredible experience for a diverse range of riding interests and rider skills.

Situated on both public and private lands, the trails have expanded at a rapid rate in the past few years. The expansion of the trail system is in direct correlation with the growing popularity of mountain biking; this trail system welcomed over 82,000 visitors in 2020, an increase of over 106% compared to 2019. Although the trails are primarily designed for mountain biking, dog walkers, hikers, trail runners and nature observers also frequent the trails.

In 2002, the Region of Waterloo partnered with the Waterloo Cycling Club and the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee (the Hydrocut) was created. In 2009, a stewardship agreement was signed by both parties. Now, the management of the trail system is undertaken by the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee (the Hydrocut Trails Committee). This 10-member committee looks after all things to do with the Hydrocut including trail planning and development, maintenance and interacting with multiple land managers. As well, the Hydrocut Trails Committee organizes merchandise sales, sponsorships, the Friends of the Hydrocut, and events which help promote the mountain bike culture in the region and to raise funds to support the trails.

Even though the Hydrocut Trails Commitee oversees the direction of the trails, much of the success would not be possible without volunteers. A large volunteer base is mobilized multiple times throughout the year to conduct large scale trail days. During these trail days new trails are built, maintenance is completed, and the community is empowered. It is not uncommon for a trail day to have over 75 volunteers and these colunteers contribute over 4,000+ hours a year which helps to maintain the trail's top ranking.

 

Past Project: 2021 Ontario Trails ICD Projects (Mountain Biking and Fat Biking Trail User Experience Survey).

Hub Team: Kelsey Johansen
 

Collaborator: Dr. Karla Boluk (Associate Professor, University of Waterloo). 

Project Liaisons:  Matt Luckhardt and Mark Schmidt, Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee Members.

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