• Stuart Benson

Tweaking the trail

Trans Canada Trail to go through Wakefield's Louis Rompré Park

Sentiers Wakefield will have until June 15 to complete their planned detour of the 200 metre stretch of The Great Trail of Canada – formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail – between Chemin Riverside and the Centre Wakefield La Pêche through Louis Rompré Park, located behind Kaffé 1870 in Wakefield. All they need is approval from the Ministry of Environment and some dry land to work on.

Hikers and nature enthusiasts will soon no longer have to take a narrow sidewalk along a major roadway while traversing Canada’s Great Trail through Wakefield, according to Sentiers Wakefield President Ken Bouchard, who said the organization is working to detour the trail through Louis Rompré Park and alongside a stream that runs parallel to the park before connecting with the Centre Wakefield La Pêche. Stuart Benson photo

Ken Bouchard, president of Sentiers Wakefield Trails, said the $12,000 environmental study has been in the works for almost nine months, and that once it is approved by the ministry, it will be a bit of a race against the clock to actually get the work done.

Two-thirds of the study was funded by Trans Canada Trails, with the remaining amount funded by the municipality. Trans Canada Trails is confusingly still the name of the Crown corporation in charge of The Great Trail of Canada.

“The reason why June 15 is so key is that the Ministry of Environment wants the work done so that we do not hamper the growth of new plants...,” Bouchard explained. “But we also can't start until after the spring flood season and things are reasonably dry.”

To make matters even more difficult, due to the nature of the wetland the new path will travel through, they won’t be allowed to use any heavy machinery to create the path or to build bridges, which would replace the wooden planks that currently cross the stream.

The new path will go through the park and cross the stream three times before passing behind Bluebarn Coffee and connecting with the community centre trail head.

“It's a wetland, so any work requires a lot of bureaucracy,” Bouchard said.

However, bureaucratic red tape hasn’t stopped Sentiers Wakefield from preparing for the work in the spring.

“Last summer, in August and early September, we cleaned out a couple of very invasive species like Japanese Knotweed,” Bouchard explained. “Filled up a whole dumpster of the stuff.”

Bouchard also added that, outside of Wakefield, Trans Canada Trails is also working to reroute the trail near Low. Currently it crosses the Paugan Dam – where it is dangerous to have any traffic of any kind at all crossing it, according to Bouchard – and down the east side of the Gatineau River until passing back over at the Wakefield Covered Bridge.

“They don't allow trucks or buses on [the dam] and would probably rather it not be considered a national trail,” Bouchard joked.

The new route, Bouchard explained, would have the trail travel down the western side of the river and instead cross to the eastern side at the Farrellton Bridge and then reconnecting with the existing route and continue to Fairbairn House and back across the Wakefield Covered Bridge.

The work is planned to be completed by the summer of 2022.

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