EDITOR'S NOTE: A version of this article originally appeared on SooToday on May 31. It is being republished for readers who may have missed it.
More information has been made available about the specific active transportation routes announced last week for the John Rowswell Hub Trail expansion, as well as a new trail to Kinsmen Park.
The five-kilometre Hiawatha Highlands and Conservation Area Connector Trail will provide residents with a safer active transportation option, separated from busy roadways.
It will begin off Third Line near Old Garden River Road, extending north toward Wishart Park. From there, it will follow the Red Pine trail system to Fifth Line and over to Kinsmen Park.
Sault Cycling Club director Andre Riopel told SooToday there are few existing options for people who want to use the trails near Hiawatha or the new pump track at Kinsmen Park.
“Most people put the bikes in the car and drive up the hill," said Riopel. "Landslide [Road] hill is hard for anybody who is not a strong cyclist. It’s rough, it’s narrow."
Riopel said the plan for the new trail is to make it a much easier grade for cyclists of all levels to make the trek up to those trails. It will also be separated from the roadway and the dangers that can present for cyclists.
“Down the hill people are going like 70 or 80 kilometres an hour, it's just crazy," Riopel said of some Landslide Road motorists. "That is why it’s such a game changer, because we have such a beautiful network of trails up at Hiawatha but it’s inaccessible unless you drive or are a strong cyclist and can climb up the hill."
A John Rowswell Hub Trail connection to the James Street area was part of the announcement on Friday, but Algoma University and Anna McCrea Public School will also become a part of the network.
The institutions will link to the Hub Trail via a new section of multi-use trail to be converted from existing sidewalk starting on Mark Street east of Hugill Street, extending west toward the existing section of the trail on Lake Street.
Riopel said ideally, all of the schools in the area would some day be connected to the Hub Trail to offer children a safer way to get to school.
The two active transportation projects were made possible through a $1.2-million funding announcement made Friday by Sault MP Terry Sheehan. The city is contributing $560,000 toward the two projects, while Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is kicking in $260,000.
At the time of the announcement, Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said he expects construction on the projects to be completed by the end of fall.
Riopel said as the city is adding more and more multi-use trails, it is becoming more attractive for active people looking to move to the Sault, as well as for cycle tourism.
“It’s going to put us as the trail town of Ontario, and I say that because there is nowhere else in Ontario that I am aware of that has a trail network of 100 kilometres of completely segregated connected trails," said Riopel. “These connections are going to take that to a different level and it’s going to be able to market the city for tourism and also attract newcomers to the quality of life."