Unique Trail Will Allow All Users to Experience Beauty of York Regional Forest
Members of York Regional Council gathered in the Hollidge Tract of the York Regional Forest today alongside members of the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville Council, the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Regional Forest Advisory Team to officially open a new public accessible trail.
The new one-kilometre loop is the first trail ever to be built in the York Regional Forest to the Government of Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) proposed Built Environmental Standard.
“Public education is an extremely important element in our Region’s drive to enhance and expand our urban and rural forests,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch. “Creating an accessible trail provides a more inclusive opportunity for all residents to learn about the importance of green spaces in our community and how these places play a vital role in the health and welfare of our municipalities.”
In May, York Regional Council approved $85,000 to create an accessible forest trail. This followed a request by the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) to provide residents with disabilities an opportunity to experience the “unique natural experience” offered by the York Regional Forest. With input from the AAC and the Regional Forest Advisory Team, the Hollidge Tract in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville was chosen due to its overall popularity, quality and diversity of forest features.
The trail has a number of accessible features, including a widened pathway that is free of obstructions, special grading of the trails to avoid steep slopes, a packed granular surface that supports the weight of wheelchairs and other assistive devices, signage and accessible parking spaces.
“Providing better access to areas such as the York Regional Forest is a positive move forward in our objective of creating a more fully inclusive community,” said Town of Richmond Hill Regional Councillor Vito Spatafora, Chair of the AAC. “I am very pleased this new accessible trail will provide people the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of York Region’s natural heritage.”
With the trail complete and officially open to the public, York Region forestry staff will continue to monitor trail conditions to ensure that the accessible features are maintained.
York Region owns and manages more than 2,200 hectares of York Regional Forest, which consist of 20 properties and more than 120 kilometres of trails. More than 1,600 people use the forest trail system daily for a variety of activities including hiking, snowshoeing and cycling.
For more information about the accessible trail in the Hollidge Tract, including a downloadable brochure, please visit www.york.ca and click on the front page trail link, or call us at 1-877-464-9675, extension 5256.