Deborah Apps joined the Trans Canada Trail as President & CEO in September 2008. Before assuming the role of CEO, Deborah served on the Board of Directors for three years.
Calling all Albertans
What it takes to finish building our national Trail
Just recently, two Albertans, Edmund Aunger and J.G. Joynt expressed their concerns regarding the development of the Trans Canada Trail in Alberta via letters to the editors of the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald.
Of course, I read those letters with great interest.
As President & CEO of the Trans Canada Trail, I share their passion for safe, recreational trails. There are, however, some important points I would like to clarify.
Our national Trail project was launched in Charlottetown in 1992 under the leadership of our two co-founders, Albertan Bill Pratt and Quebecer Pierre Camu, as a legacy of Canada 125 celebrations.
Since then, local Trail groups, municipalities and TCT’s provincial and territorial Trail-building partners have developed over 17,000 kilometres of free, multi-purpose recreational Trail that connects nearly 1000 communities.
Our national Trail promotes six preferred outdoor activities: walking/hiking, cycling, paddling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling (on designated Trails in winter only).
It provides Canadians with a host of benefits by promoting healthy living, community and economic development and awareness of the environment, and it helps us learn about our nation’s diverse cultures and heritage. For example, many sections of the Trail travel the historic pathways of Canada’s earliest settlers, explorers and First Nations peoples.
The Trans Canada Trail is a sustainable gift to future generations.
Our Trail-building success is impressive given that many of our Trail groups are volunteer organizations or municipalities with limited resources.
In Alberta alone, our provincial Trail partner, Alberta Trail Net, has been successful in supporting the development of 1,765 kilometres of Trans Canada Trail, of which 81% is non-motorized.
(As in some other provinces and territories, in northern and remote areas of the province, mixed-use sections of the Trail may accommodate motorized uses where approved by the land manager.)
While it is true that the province is currently at 59% connection, which is lower than some other provinces, it’s also true that the total length of developed Trail is significant.
Today, for example, Albertans can enjoy the magnificent Mountain Park Legacy Trail, the rolling landscapes and broad vistas of the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park Trail, sections of the historic Athabasca Landing and Peace River Trails, among many others.
The TCT provides up to 50 per cent of the funds for Trail development, which means the remaining costs are covered by contributions from donors and all levels of government.
Municipal, provincial and federal governments have been longtime supporters of the TCT, for which we are grateful.
That said, the Trans Canada Trail is now at a critical juncture in its development, and we will require further support to achieve success.
In 2017, just three short years from now, Canada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
In recognition of this milestone, the TCT is on a bold mission to connect our national Trail so that we can provide Canadians and visitors with a truly unifying setting in which to honour our nation and the land that has shaped us.
In fact, just this January the Government of Canada recognized the value of a connected Trail as a centrepiece for Canada 150 celebrations when it announced $25 million in matching funding for the TCT.
Our connection plan is aggressive and will demand even more dedication from our Trail groups, donors, volunteers and provincial and territorial Trail partners, as well as the continued support of all levels of government.
In keeping with a multi-purpose Trail, the plan relies on the development of destination greenway Trails, interim roadways, and waterways.
Our immediate goal is to connect the Trail by 2017, but TCT enhancement and development will not cease. Like the Appalachian Trail, we will focus first on what can be achieved, and then grow organically in response to community capacity.
Once connected, and as with all great national Trails, the TCT will depend on the next generation to continue the stewardship of our home and native land.
Now, as our nation’s 150th birthday fast approaches, we are calling on all Albertans to join our cause and help us connect our province to the rest of the country by 2017.
What better way to celebrate the land and people we cherish than on a national Trail that connects Canadians to each other and to our culture and heritage, from coast to coast to coast?
With your help, we can give Canadians a gift that will last for many generations to come.
This circle of influential and visionary leaders will help us connect the Trail and all Canadians.
Our goal is to connect the Trans Canada Trail by 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 25th year of the Trail.
Donate now and help connect the Trail by Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017. The Government of Canada will match 50 cents of every dollar you donate!