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Grand Watershed Trails Network Project Research Assistant Hired!

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

The Trail Research Hub is pleased to announce the hiring of Sara Dominika Skabowski as the Research Assistant for phase two of the Grand Watershed Trails Network Research Project.

© The Grand Watershed Trails Network

The Grand Watershed Trails 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.

Grand Watershed Trails Network Research Project

The Grand Watershed Trail Network Research Project is a joint collaboration between the researchers affiliated with the Trail Research Hub and the University of Waterloo's Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, as well as community partners, including the Grand Watershed Trail Network, Regional Tourism Organizations (RTO 1, RTO 3, and RTO 4), and Six Nations Tourism.

The purpose of this study is to gauge regional businesses awareness of the Grand Watershed Trails Network and Ontario by Bike – Bike Friendly Business criteria, and the importance they place on trail-based recreation and tourism, including but not limited to cycling, hiking, and paddling.

The results of this study will inform the development, marketing, promotion and planning of the Grand Watershed Trails Network, while fostering meaningful opportunities for engagement with local stakeholders and indigenous communities in planning for, and benefiting from, the economic growth resulting from increasing visitation levels associated with the Grand River Watershed's trail-based recreation and tourism offerings. Benefits associated with this study include the development of a meaningful collective marketing effort for trail-based recreation and tourism for the entire watershed, development of retail, service and amenity partnerships, and capacity building to drive regional economic development related to trails.

The objectives of this study include: determining the current level of knowledge/awareness of the Grand Watershed Trails Network and the Ontario by Bike - Bike Friendly Business criteria, among regional businesses/attractions; gauging the importance of trail-based recreation and tourism (e.g., hiking, cycling, paddling and other activities) to businesses in the Grand River Watershed; and, ascertaining whether businesses in the Grand River Watershed see value in a collective marketing effort for trail-based recreation and tourism for the entire watershed.

Grand Watershed Trails Network Research Assistant Role

As the project moves into Phase 2, Sara will support the project by collating and analyzing the survey results, and writing preliminary reports and stakeholder presentations, as well as receiving mentorship in statistical analysis and academic publishing. Sara will also develop infographics that will be used to communicate the results at conferences and on social media to a diverse audience of community-based stakeholders, local businesses, government officials, trail development practitioners, and academics.

Meet Sara

Sara Skabowski joins the GWTN project as an undergraduate student from the University of Waterloo, studying urban planning with a specialization in environmental management and planning. Her predominant focus is in parks planning and management, and she aspires to work for Parks Canada. Sara has previous co-op work experience as a planner working for municipalities and private consulting firms. Sara will be graduating Spring of 2022 and intends to continue her graduate studies in Europe. Sara is a passionate outdoor enthusiast and an active hiker. She spends most of her spare time hiking the less traveled trails and camping in the back country, including thru-hiking the Juan De Fuca, West Coast Trail, and East Coast Trail.

Funding Acknowledgement

Funding for this position is provided partially by a grant received by the Grand River Trails Network from the joint Project Learning Tree and Trans Canada Trail - National Trail Youth Employment Program. Trans Canada Trail offers a 50% wage subsidy to eligible groups who are looking to hire a young employee (aged 15 to 30).

The subsidy is intended to support jobs that are contributing to the development and improvement of the Trans Canada Trail. More details about this funding can be found here: and here:



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