More help needed to upkeep trails, says Hike Nova Scotia


  • <p>WEB PHOTO, REGION OF QUEENS MUNICIPALITY</p><p>A walking trail in Pine Grove Park in Queens County.</p>

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Hike Nova Scotia wants the province's political parties and their candidates in the upcoming election to take a stand on trails and wilderness spaces.

The not-for-profit society, which was formed in 2007 to promote hiking, walking and snowshoeing in Nova Scotia, is becoming a growing force with growing needs.

Over the past year, its membership has increased by 20 per cent, according to its president, Janet Barlow.

"Trail use went up dramatically during the pandemic," she said in a news release. "But funding and support, not so much. With increased use comes increased maintenance and repair costs."

The app, AllTrails, lists 663 hiking, running and mountain biking trails in Nova Scotia.

In the release, the group says that numerous trails are at risk due to a lack of funding for maintenance. Many of the local trails are managed by volunteer groups who are struggling to keep up with maintenance. At the same time, wilderness areas need further protection.

In the last year, the government contributed $1.222 million towards trail funding. The province offers a number of funding options available to community groups through the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage fund. Over the past year, it has served up $88,000 for trail maintenance, $80,000 for Community Trails Leadership, $24,000 in engineering assistance, $70,000 for the Nova Scotia Trails Strategy and another $960,000 for Recreational Trail Expansion.

In the release, Hike Nova Scotia encouraged hikers to speak up for trails by asking candidates how they would support trails and wilderness protection if they are elected.

LighthouseNOW surveyed candidates in Queens by email, including Brian Muldoon, of the Green Party, NDP candidate Mary Dahr, Liberal candidate Susan MacLeod and the PC's Kim Masland.

Muldoon told LighthouseNOW of the Green Party's commitment to "build communities that are sustainable, equitable, where everyone can thrive.

"Within a 10-minute walk from your community, you will have access to well-maintained parks and trails," he responded.

Dahr noted the NDP has introduced an Environmental Bill of Rights that will give communities more control over projects in the area which would help with applying for funding for trail maintenance.

"Protecting Nova Scotia's natural places that bring tourists from all over the world to our rural communities is very important. The NDP would protect all of our parks and protected areas," she said.

"Upon forming government, the PCs will develop a provincial active transportation strategy and explore options to help deliver more active transportation options, such as walking trails, cycling paths and other forms of active mobility. Our platform also commits to introducing the toughest littering penalties in Canada, which will further protect our trails," responded Masland.

MacLeod said she believed that the Nova Scotia trail systems are "a vital part of Nova Scotia's infrastructure, providing a safe and healthy way to enjoy the outdoors while benefiting from much-needed exercise ... I am a firm advocate for government assistance in establishing and supporting trails both on Crown land and within communities."

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