By Zachary Roman
In a Facebook post made on June 9 the County of Haliburton announced that the Rail Trail will be opened to motorized vehicles as of Friday June 19.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues we ask that all Rail Trail users continue to respect each other and maintain appropriate physical distancing and group numbers” reads the post. “Thank you stay safe and have fun.”
Liz Danielsen Haliburton County warden and deputy mayor of Algonquin Highlands said the original decision to keep the Rail Trail open for passive use only was made during a time when it was the last remaining place where folks in the area could enjoy some fresh air and exercise.
“We understand that this was a disappointment to the ATV Association and its members particularly given that they have a formal agreement with the county for use of the trail during the summer and fall months and that they contribute to its maintenance” said Danielsen in an email to the Echo . “Unfortunately during these difficult times a number of decisions have been made by different levels of government that have disappointed people for a variety of reasons. Given that the province has now declared that a variety of public and recreational spaces can be open and that its state of emergency has only been extended to June 19 the county’s Emergency Operations Group agreed unanimously that it was time to open the trail to all users.”
Danielsen said that it is the county’s hope that everyone will continue to practice safe physical distancing and respect others while using the trail.
Joel Bockneck president of the Haliburton ATV Association said he has already received a large amount of positive feedback from riders regarding the decision to reopen the trail to ATVs.
“We are excited to hear that the Rail Trail will be opening to ATVs” said Bockneck. “It is an important link for our members and other riding enthusiasts that want to travel into Haliburton from the south without having to ride on the busier public roadways. The Rail Trail also serves as a link to several HATVA trails in the county.”