By Frances Learment

Saugeen Rail Trail Association representative Jessica Carter delivered an update and details of a 33 percent budget increase request to Saugeen Shores councillors Nov. 25.

It is likely the Saugeen Rail Trail Association will get an additional $5,000 from the Town of Saugeen Shores next year – a 33 per cent increase to $20,000 for the town.
No final funding decision was made, but several councillors praised the Rail Trail’s work and voiced support for the budget increase.
Along with the annual town funding, the Rail Trail raises money through annual memberships, and corporate, business, and service club donations.

The Saugeen Rail Trail connects Southampton, Saugeen Township and Port Elgin along the abandoned CN rail line.

Rail Trail representative Jessica Carter updated councillors on this year’s accomplishments and challenges, and asked for more town money in 2020 to tackle new projects.

Proudly, Carter said the trail has developed into “one of the finest multi-use, fully accessible trail systems in Ontario,” and is a valuable asset to the town.

She said faithful volunteers provide on-going maintenance, weed control, grading and resurfacing, and the major project this year was to pave a section from Concession 10 to Elgin St., thanks to a generous donation of $75,000. The Association’s share was $10,000 and 400 hours of volunteer time.

Carter said one sour note involved repeated incidents of vandalism that targeted the memorial Gardens in Southampton and River St. pavilion in Port Elgin that included graffiti on signs, uprooted landscaping, and damaged seating.

She hopes security lights and trail head camera will help end the “wilful disruptive acts.”

Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt thanked the group and said he supports the financial deal.

“Any time an organization comes in and asks [for] $20,000 and you put in the other $80,00 – 20-cent dollars –I’m good with that,” Myatt said, saying he’d support the additional $5,000 request in the next budget go- round.

Both councillors Kristan Shrider and Cheryl Grace, who represented council on the Association for four years, supported the work of the Rail Trail and it’s the budget request.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau also thanked and praised the Rail Trail Association, and said the town is “ “absolutely committed to repairing” trail vandalism.

The Saugeen Rail Trail Association’s budget request will be debated by town councillors during upcoming budget