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signage municipalities 560Pictures of signage offered in the staff report used by other municipalities to indicate how trails can be shared by all users.

Hub Staff

Whether or not to encourage bicycles on the Fairy Lake trail was again a topic of discussion at the Saugeen Shores Committee of Whole June 12.

Reading from a staff report, Director of Community Services Jayne Jagelewski stated concerns over an outright ban on cyclists including extra strain on bylaw enforcement officers as well as recent efforts to give Saugeen Shores a bicycle friendly designation affording opportunities for education on trail etiquette and multi-use safety.

“The newly established trail at Fairy Lake provides an opportunity for cyclists and pedestrians to share the trail in a safe setting,” said Jagelewski, noting examples of signage provided in the report which promoted shared trails and etiquette. “In the interim staff is recommending that cyclists and pedestrians continue to use the trail in unison and that staff erect signage indicating that it’s a shared trail and further that we undertake a media blitz to educate users on trail etiquette.”

Councillor Cheryl Grace said that other communities with bicycle friendly designations have walk-only trails and quoted a phrase from the Town of Newmarket’s website that asked trail users to “please respect signs that some trails are reserved for foot traffic” while the community maintained a bicycle friendly status.

Grace went onto say that Saugeen Shores has plenty of other cycling opportunities. “We have wonderful cycling trails, we have wonderful multi-use trails, we have the rail trail, we have the shoreline trail... I don’t think we need Fairy Lake to be included in the cycling mix,” she said, adding that it undermines the “reflective and slow paced” atmosphere of Fairy Lake.

Councillor Don Matheson also supported the idea of keeping Fairy Lake reserved for foot traffic, adding that Fairy Lake is also a designated outdoor classroom for students at G.C. Huston Public School. “The students use it in the fall and in the spring.” The councillor also noted that there is only one way in and one way out. “It’s not a short cut anywhere,” said Matheson.

Vice Deputy Mayor Diane Huber echoed the sentiment that Fairy Lake should maintain its peaceful nature, adding that in tourist literature, it’s actually being promoted that way. “[In a tourist brochure] it’s a tiny little paragraph but it talks about this oasis of calm and peace and take a walk, sit there, look at the lake. It’s all about a peaceful environment, it’s branding.” Huber added that the trail at Fairy Lake was “a different kind of path” than other trails in Saugeen Shores and with blind corners and ups and downs it doesn’t afford multi users as much opportunity to manoeuvre around one another.

Councillor Neil Menage hoped that if we were going to ban bicycles from the trail, they would make a point to not ban cyclists. “That we provide cyclists with an opportunity to shelter their bicycles... lock them up and they get to disembark and they get to walk around the trail,” said Menage.

Councillor Mike Myatt expressed concern that council was making an issue out of a non issue and suggested that there haven’t been complaints to warrant a ban.

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau said he wasn’t too concerned one way or the other but wondered if they could try what was recommended by staff - signage and education - before an outright ban was put in place. “I think that we could look at other things that we could do to alter people’s behaviour, to effect people’s behaviour... and one of those options is what the director of community services is proposing,” said Charbonneau. He said that if after a couple of months they found that it was not working, then prohibition could be revisited.

“But I think that prohibition ought to be the final solution to a problem, the very last solution that we choose because it is so dramatic and so drastic a thing to do,” said the deputy mayor.

In the end the recommendation to promote Fairy Lake as a shared usage trail was defeated.

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