Major donation from RBC funding world-class paddling route in Nova Scotia, part of The Great Trail

BADDECK, N.S. (July 21, 2016) RBC made an extraordinary donation of $1 million to Trans Canada Trail (TCT), which was celebrated today at a community event at Inverary Resort on Cape Breton Island. This transformational gift has already been disbursed to support the development of three signature paddling routes in key areas of The Great Trail's country-wide network. The Sea to Sky Marine Trail (British Columbia) and Chief Whitecap Waterway (Saskatchewan) were completed and officially opened to the public in 2015, and now, the Bras d'Or Lake Water Route in Nova Scotia, which is in its final phase of development. RBC is being celebrated for its key role in the development of these important sections of The Great Trail of Canada, representing more than 500 kilometres of water routes.

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Volunteers celebrated at NS Trails' 2016 AGM

2016 award winners

Community trails in Nova Scotia are the result of the hard work of volunteers throughout the province. On June 18, 2016, NS Trails celebrated the dedication and contributions of trail volunteers from across the province by handing out four new awards on top of our long-standing NS Trails White Hill Summit Award. Thank you to everyone who nominated trail champions.    

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Oxford celebrates opening of River Philip Bridge

June 4, 2016 (Oxford, NS) – The Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) is excited to announce the official opening of a new bridge, part of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) in Oxford this Saturday, June 4, 2016. Media and members of the public are encouraged to attend the opening celebration of the River Philip Bridge. Volunteers with the Oxford & Area Trail Association installed this 170-foot bridge in March and have been working since then to complete the decking. This is a crucial TCT connection that will help connect Nova Scotia with our neighbouring provinces in time for Canada 150 celebrations in 2017.

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River Philip Bridge opening headlines 14th International Trails Day in Nova Scotia

Halifax, NS (June 3, 2016) – Nova Scotians are invited to join the Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) and volunteer trail groups across the province to celebrate the 14th annual International Trails Day this Saturday June 4, 2016.

"International Trails Day is a day to celebrate the trails in your local community and recognize the trail volunteers whose dedication and hard work made these exceptional recreation spaces a reality," says Vanda Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of NS Trails.

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Getting youth excited about trails

We all know that it's beneficial to get kids outside and article after article will tell you about the benefits of being outdoors. Which begs the question: as community partners, how can we help encourage youth to get outside on trail?

One way to answer this question is to follow in the path of the Baille Ard Recreation Association and head right to the schools themselves!

How did Baille Ard accomplish this? They worked tirelessly at creating ready-to-use activities based off Nova Scotia curriculum and partnered with afterschool programs.

Why create curriculum-based activities?

With a strong contingent of members who have a background in education, Baille Ard Recreation recognized how much time children spent in school but understood that if they wanted to bring classrooms onto their trails they needed to show how these activities fit within the curriculum and they needed to make them easy to use.

The extensive and detailed collection of activities, which can all be found on the Baille Ard website, have done exactly this for the teachers of Sydney. They can quickly browse, explore and print off activities across all grade levels, which in turn saves them time and makes it easy to show how everything fits with their curriculum.

Baille Ard quickly realized that by saving educators time and demonstrating curricular outcomes they would increases the likelihood of schools visiting, and more importantly, re-visiting their trails every year!

How can activities be developed?

If you're looking to find some partners to get this process started, you can follow Baille Ard's approach and go directly to the experts in your community. Try to find experienced local teachers who know the curriculum, know the trails and who know the community involved.

If you have some educators on board and are looking into creating some activities but not sure where to get started, St. FX has begun offering teachers an Outdoor Leadership Educational Leadership Certificate, Project Wild has excellent resources in both French and English and the Outdoor Council of Canada has programs for teachers as well.

 

How Baille Ard has partnered with after school programs

On top of all the work they've done to include classrooms on their trails, Baille Ard has created a unique partnership with an after school drama club at a neighbouring school.

What started out as a way for the club to enjoy nature, boost creativity and be active after a day in school has turned into something much bigger. The drama club has started to put on plays right on the trails and have brought in students from across Sydney to watch them perform.

If there's a school nearby it might be worthwhile to see what after school programs they offer – you never know where that first conversation might lead and who you might introduce to your trails!

Added benefits of activities and partnerships?

As Baille Ard continued to grow their network and created new activities they began to see the added benefits their association received from the partnerships they were forming:

  • As they began inviting groups onto their trails for a presentation or activity it encouraged them to develop an activity that they could use in the future. It forced them to really think about what's on the trail that's of interest as they come up with ideas for activities.
  • It's introduced them to a variety of experts and allowed them to form relationships with everyone from teachers to bird-watchers to local naturalists!
  • It's enabled them to rethink the values of activities they've used in the past and how they can reuse them for different age-groups and partnerships as they look to introduce more people to their trails.

 

Conclusion

When you really look closely, children are spending a big chunk of their time in school. Most school-aged youth spend close to six hours a day in classrooms, which works out to about 30 hours per week.

So if you're looking for ways to engage youth on your trails, approaching nearby schools is a great place to start!

While the Baille Ard Recreation Association was lucky enough to have some educators on board, they've laid out a solid foundation for groups looking follow in their path:

1) Curriculum-based activities can be a great tool to get classrooms to come explore your trails. They provide a clear link between getting outside and education and make it easier on teachers to justify spending time outside

2) Seek out opportunities to involve afterschool programs with your trails. After school clubs are as popular as they've ever been. Taking the opportunity to encourage clubs to use your trails can foster great partnerships between your trails and volunteers in the school.

3) Use every activity and partnership as a chance to reflect! As you create new activities or partnerships always take a moment to think back on what made past instances so successful.

 

River Philip Bridge marks major milestone for The Great Trail in Nova Scotia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

River Philip Bridge in Oxford Represents Major TCT Milestone in Nova Scotia

Halifax, NS (March 4, 2016) – The Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) is excited to announce that our province is another step closer to connecting the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) in Nova Scotia thanks to the installation of a new 180 foot bridge crossing the River Philip in Oxford.

"The bridge has been over a year in the making," says Oxford and Area Trails Association volunteer Gerry McLellan. "It represents a major milestone for our association's work on the TCT."

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NS Trails to celebrate Oct. 24 opening of Trans Canada Trail in Mulgrave

Media Advisory

October 19, 2015 (Mulgrave, NS) – The Nova Scotia Trails Federation (NS Trails) is excited to announce a new section of Trans Canada Trail (TCT) in Nova Scotia will be officially opened in the Town of Mulgrave this Saturday.  Media and members of the public are encouraged to attend the opening celebration of the Scotia Trail. This 1.2 km trail is the first phase of a 5 km greenway trail connection across the town.  

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Dedicated volunteers and major funding connects TCT in Nova Scotia

Good things ahead for the TCT in Nova Scotia! Published Sept. 29 in the Trans Canada Trail's 'trailtalk' e-update.
 
Westville coordinator Sally O'Neill on the Trail in Acadia Park.
 
The old saying “elbow grease will make an oak table shine” was brought vigorously to life by a group of Trail volunteers in Westville, Nova Scotia on August 22.

Local community groups and volunteers organized a day of Trail-building in Acadia Park, where they rolled up their sleeves, grabbed shovels and garden rakes, and got the final layer of gravel put on the latest section of the TCT in the town of Westville, located about 150 kilometres north of Halifax.

“This is an exciting project for Westville,” said Town of Westville Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Rice. “We are very proud to be joining this national trail system.”

Volunteers of all ages and levels of Trail-building experience took part in the Westville Trans Canada Trail Community Build Day, and now the Trail through Acadia Park in Westville is open to the public.

This day of community Trail-building preceded the announcement of major TCT funding for Trail development in Nova Scotia.

This summer, $884,000 was approved for local trail organizations working to connect the Trans Canada Trail in Nova Scotia in time for 2017, according to TCT’s provincial partner, Nova Scotia Trails Federation.

“With less than two years to meet the connection deadline, NS Trails is pleased with the enthusiasm and dedication of our local trail partners and the ongoing financial support of the Trans Canada Trail,” said the Federation’s Blaise MacEachern in a news release.

Blue Route highlights Bicycle Nova Scotia's momentum

Celebrating the official launch of the first segment of the provincial cycling Blue Route on Aug. 6 in Pictou.

Things have really gotten into high gear for Bicycle Nova Scotia these past few months.

On Aug. 6, the organization officially launched the first segment of the Blue Route, (Nova Scotia’s provincial cycling network project), in collaboration with the Nova Scotia government. The inaugural section connects Pictou to East Mountain (Bible Hill) along segments of the provincial road network and the Jitney Trail. The entire route is 56 km in length, including 53 km on provincial roadways and 3 km on the Jitney Trail.

The launch in Pictou was attended by Minister Geoff MacLellan of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and Mayor Joe Hawes of the Town of Pictou along with many cyclists and long time Blue Route supporters.

“Bicycle Nova Scotia had been working on the Blue Route for eight years since the idea first came about during the Nova Scotia Bicycle Summit. It was around the same time they were launching the Route Verte in Quebec, and people were inspired here in Nova Scotia,” explained Ben Buckwold, who works on Bikeways & Blue Route Implementation for Bicycle Nova Scotia.

“BNS has been working on the Blue Route ever since, so it was a big moment when the ribbon was cut on the first section. Our plan is to continue developing the Blue Route in stages, connecting trials with on-road infrastructure unitl we achieve a full, province-wide network.”

Once fully completed, the Blue Route (www.blueroute.ca) will span 3,000 km and connect communities through designated cycling routes on secondary highways with paved shoulders, low traffic volume roads, hard surfaced trails and city streets.

Buckwold said the vision is to build a network that connects communities across the province and provides a variety of experiences and opportunities.

“Our goal is to make the Blue Route relevant to people of all types and skill levels. Whether you are into multi-day touring, considering commuting by bicycle, or a family looking for a place to ride in comfort, we want the Blue Route to make riding in Nova Scotia easier and more enjoyable,” he said.

“The trails have been an asset for years and volunteers are always working to improve them and they’re great routes for bicycles. The Blue Route is a chance for Nova Scotia to start looking at pieces of our road network as biking assets as well. With strategic improvements like shoulder paving and signage, we can create something special for the province. We think it will be fantastic for the people who live here, and it can help establish our province as an international cycling destination."

Buckwold said they hope to continue building partnerships with the province, municipalities, First Nations communities, and trails organizations to connect bike routes to existing street networks.

“We think its got a lot of potential to make it easier for people to be physically active in Nova Scotia,” he said. “Riding a bike at some point in our lives is something that most of us have in common. Unfortunately many of us leave the bike in the garage as we get older, but if we create access to better infrastructure, we know there is a huge potential demand waiting out there.”  

Numbers aren’t available to provide insight into the growth of cycling in Nova Scotia, but Buckwold said from the perspective of most observers, more people are using bicycles for commuting and recreation.

“We don’t have really great data at the province wide level to say definitively that more people are riding bikes, but we see far more interest in bicycling culture around communities in Nova Scotia,” he said.

“At least 12 municipalities now have Active Transportation plans that included accommodations for bicycles.”

Buckwold said a lot of the attraction comes from the desire to increase physical activity levels, in addition to tourism and economic development potential.

“On one hand we have the high cost of physical inactivity to our healthcare system, and on the other is this growing bicycle and adventure tourism market out there,” he said.

To demonstrate the interest in cycling province-wide, Buckwold points to Gran Fondo Baie Sainte-Marie (www.granfondobaiesaintemarie.ca/en/), a new event happening along Digby County’s French shore on Sept. 27.

It quickly garnered more than 350 registrants despite being in its inaugural year. Overwhelming interest has prompted organizers to reopen registration to accept up to 400 participants.

Buckwold also points to the increasing popularity of mountain biking and bicycle tourism as other ways to further expand the existing bicycling culture in the province.

“You get to experience Nova Scotia in a completely different way and more intimate way when you’re on a bike going by at 15 or 20 km/h instead of flying by on a 100 series highway,” he said.

 “This is the perfect province for bicycling because we have so many communities to explore. They’re dotted along beautiful coastlines, we have different regions with burgeoning local food cultures, vineyards and even breweries. There’s a lot to get out there and enjoy."

 The 10th Nova Scotia Bicycle Summit is taking place this fall in Kings County from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4. Buckwold expects that event to draw large crowds. A complete schedule is available at www.nsbikesummit.ca.

Celebrating the official launch of Nova Scotia's cycling Blue Route on Aug. 6 in Pictou.

 

This website was made possible by the generous financial support of the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.