May 20, 2010
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York approves Accessible Forest Trail initiative

First fully accessible trail to be implemented in Hollidge Tract of York Regional Forest
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York will move forward with a plan to implement a fully accessible trail in the Hollidge Tract of the York Regional Forest as part of a newly approved Accessible Forest Trail initiative. 
 
The proposed one-kilometre loop trail will be developed later this year at a cost of $85,000 from the 2010 roads capital budget.
 
“The York Regional Forest is one of our community’s most beautiful natural resources,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “It is important to ensure that each of our residents, regardless of physical ability, has access to all the features that our Region has to offer.”
 
The move to retrofit a fully accessible forest trail came from a request by the York Region Accessibility Advisory Committee, in an effort to provide residents with disabilities an opportunity to experience the “unique natural experience” offered by the York Regional Forest.  In 2009, a York Regional Forest Trails Accessibility Sub-Committee was formed with members of the Regional Forest Advisory Team, to help develop options for a trail design.
 
The Hollidge Tract in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville was chosen due to its popularity and quality and diversity of forest features.  As the selected area for the new trail, the Hollidge Tract will host a number of planned accessible features, including special grading of the trail to avoid steep slopes, new signage and accessible parking.
 
“The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is blessed with a number of natural heritage features for our residents to explore,” said Whitchurch-Stouffville Mayor Wayne Emmerson, Chair of the York Region Transportation Services Committee.  “Developing a fully accessible trail that can be enjoyed by everyone is a wonderful idea, and I am particularly pleased that our community will be the first to showcase this project.”
 
York Region staff will continue to work with members of the Accessibility Advisory Committee to promote the new trail to the public, when work has been completed.  Once implemented, staff will monitor trail conditions to determine level of use and ensure that the accessible standards are maintained.
 
York Region owns and manages 2,200 hectares of York Regional Forest, which consist of 20 properties and more than 120 kilometres of trails.  More than 1,600 people use the forest trail system daily for a variety of activities including hiking, snowshoeing and cycling. 
 
In 2000 the York Regional Forest became the first municipally-owned forest in Canada to be Forest Stewardship Council certified as sustainably managed.  York Region staff use the various tracts of the York Regional Forest to educate school groups about the importance of forests through the Nature’s Classroom program, as well as host a popular series of free monthly festivals and events including guided walks for families.
 
For more information about the York Regional Forest and the programs we offer, please call us at
1-877-464-9675, extension 5256.  To download the monthly forest walk schedule, please visit www.york.ca and click the “Take a Walk in the Forest brochure” shortcut under “Important Links.”
 
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Media Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
Phone: 905 830-4444 Ext. 1232 / Cell: 905 251-6419
Email: michael.kemp@york.ca

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