Strap on your helmets — the ride is just beginning.
The County of Simcoe is kicking off Pedal Week on Monday, a campaign aiming to shine a light on strides made in active transportation locally. The campaign features events, themes and promotions each day next week that will celebrate Simcoe County’s cycling culture and promote the county’s investment in cycling tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities.
“Simcoe County has done a great deal of work over the past few years to develop trails, cycling infrastructure and cycling tourism. We’ve really positioned ourselves as a cycling mecca for Ontario,” said Brendan Matheson, experience development co-ordinator with Tourism Simcoe County. “I think it’s important for us to really celebrate all the work we’ve done and everything we’ve accomplished.”
Cycle Simcoe started in 2013 as a Trillium Project. The goal was to create a cycling tourism strategy county-wide. Matheson said that down the road, he hopes Simcoe County will be seen as a tourism destination for avid cyclists across the globe.
“Absolutely we do,” he said. “(The project) was so successful we expanded it. I think that’s a sign... of the potential we have as a county to keep growing cycling tourism. We’re starting to see more events come our way.”
One of those events is next weekend’s mountain bike Canadian Championships at Hardwood Ski and Bike.
Since 2013, the county has provided over $50,000 to various biking and cycling events throughout the region. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,000 athletes from across Canada. Using the 2015 Pan Am course, riders will battle for the national title.
Part of the week’s celebration will also see the Trails Connecting Communities program highlighted, which has run annually for the past 10 years. This year, $250,000 was set aside to be given to municipalities who applied for the funding to help improve local trails and connectivity.
Ten projects applied for the funding, and all ten projects were approved at the June 25 county council meeting.
“It’s a great program. It’s always well-taken by all our municipalities. We really never the problem of not having enough applications to distribute the money,” said David Parks, director of planning, development and tourism with the county, with a laugh.
“The strategy is, we’d like all our communities to eventually be linked together so people can pedal around the County of Simcoe is a convenient and safe way,” said Parks. “Also, our communities are growing and there are opportunities for new trails in that vision.”
Cycling events are slated all week long.
On Tuesday, the trio bike program will be officially launched at Sunset Village in Collingwood and Georgian Village in Penetanguishene. On Friday Warbler Way, a new multi-use trail, will be opened to the public which winds through the Simcoe County Museum Tract. Warbler Way is a 3.2-kilometre trail connecting to the Hickling Tract Recreational Trail, The Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail) and the Simcoe County Loop Trail.
Long-term, Matheson says in addition to promoting to outsiders to enjoy Simcoe County as a tourism destination, the county would also like to see locals taking advantage of the investments being made.
“We want to see more kids biking to school. We want to see more recreational cyclists. It’s only going to get more popular so I think it’s important we have safe cycling infrastructure,” he said.
For more information on Pedal Week activities, click here.
Ten projects approved for 2019 funding through the Trails Connecting Communities program
- Town of New Tecumseth - Trans Canada Trail Rehabilitation - $30,000
- Township of Clearview - Clearview Trails Expansions in Stayner - $22,500
- Town of Wasaga Beach - Shoreline Trail Improvements - $15,000
- Township of Ramara - Trail Access Point Lagoon City - $15,000
- Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury - Kuzmich Park Trail - $30,000
- Township of Severn - Uhthoff Trail Signage Upgrades - $30,000
- Township of Tay - Asphalt and Trail Rehabilitation First Ave. Trail - $30,000
- Town of Innisfil - Town Campus Trail Connections - $30,000
- Town of Midland - Golf Link Bike Lanes and Trail Repairs - $30,000
- Simcoe County - County Museum Trail Expansions - $25,000