Greenbelt Route Coming Soon: Ontario cycle tourism gets a boost (from our new issue)
Story by Darja Pilipovic
Photo courtesy Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation
The Greenbelt Route is a new cycling trail spanning and impressive 470 km over six regions across Ontario. It will showcase communities en route, providing active transportation connections throughout urban centres and the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail. Shelley Petrie, grants program director of Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, says the upcoming August launch rides and workshop events for the Greenbelt Route will illustrate how important the Greenbelt region is for Ontario.
The launch for the Greenbelt Route is a fullservice ride ranging from 50 km a day to 105 km a day, and promises to be an excellent introduction to the route. It will include a shuttle service that allows cyclists to hop on and off at various locations, with several stops including local eateries, farms and even treetop treks in the Ganaraska forest.
A feature that makes this particular ride unique is the atmosphere. Besides the connections that fellow cyclists will develop amongst each other, they might also develop new friendships in some of the towns they roll through.
“Every time cyclists roll into a town they’ll be feted by the local community as they come out to applaud and say ‘thank you’ for riding to their town,” says Petrie.
The Greenbelt Route is an essential component to promoting not only healthy living and sustainability, but also environmental and cultural integrity in Ontario. The trail will allow cyclists to experience the region in an intimate way that is not possible by any other means of transportation. They will not only see the environment changing and the rural communities within, but cyclists will be able to feel the changes in terrain, as hills turn to flatlands and forests turn to vast fields.
The Greenbelt Route will take cyclists through some of the most iconic areas of south central Ontario, including the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara escarpment, the Chicotlin badlands, and lets not forget wine country. Tourists, Torontonians and regional locals alike will enjoy creating their own cadence and rhythm as they pedal through quiet country roads, taking in the serene natural beauty of the region, and maybe even a glass or two, in a way that only cycling can deliver.
The Greenbelt Route is also important for the opportunity it provides to collect information on cycling and tourism, and put a concrete plan to action to create something bigger; possibly resembling the Route Verte in Quebec. Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is currently working with Ontario by Bike to create methodologies to help identify economic metrics in a way that will provide a measurable baseline for future development, to show how cycling is contributing economically to Ontario. The prospect of the Greenbelt Route turning into something similar to Route Verte in Quebec is an exciting possibility, and Petrie agrees.
“The province of Ontario and others are starting to calculate how much cycle tourism and recreation from a health point of view is worth…we’re seeing municipalities and others respond by making financial investments in both of those areas,” says Petrie. “So we’re thinking that really bodes well for the future. And while we’ve invested a lot in this route, there are 37 municipalities that are partners in this route and they’re all making investments in the Greenbelt Route too.”
You too can support the Greenbelt Route as well by joining in the launch ride. The ride will take place August 16 to 21, and is billed as the special Greenbelt addition to the annual Waterfront Trail Adventure, an already well received long-distance ride for cyclists.
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