Vriends knows value of Island’s trail system

By Melora McInnis
Sept. 30, 2014

Peter Vriends recovered recently from a serious heart condition.
He owes his health to the regular use of the Trans Canada Trail. It helped him get in shape, he said.
Vriends attended a celebration marking the completion of the Island’s section of the trail at Joseph Ghiz Memorial Park on Sept 12.
Vriends and his wife use the Trans Canada trail regularly.
“Using the trail helped my condition,” he said. “I’ve had some medical treatment, but certainly getting into shape helped.”
The couple have walked P.E.I.’s entire portion of the trail three times. It took 12 days each time. They used the main trail from Elmira to Tignish and slept at local campgrounds.
“I enjoy the trail, it’s a great resource we have here.”
Vriends was one of many spectators to watch Premier Robert Ghiz, the prime minister’s wife Laureen Harper, Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea and Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee take the stage in front of a large crowd of supporters to celebrate completion of P.E.I.’s trail.
P.E.I. is the second province to complete its trail, making the system 75 per cent complete across the country.
Since the local project began in 1992 in Summerside, it has attracted many contributions. Volunteers and support from municipal, provincial and federal governments brought in $25 million to see the trail complete. The last 30km of the Island project was developed thanks to a $1 million donation from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
The goal is to have the entire national trail ready by 2017, when the country celebrates 150 years of Confederation.
The trail symbolizes not only the physical connection of it, but also represents the building of the nation. It’s a place for Canadians to look for comfort, see beautiful scenery and find a free way to achieve good health, said Ghiz.
“It connects dozens of Island communities. If it wasn’t without that support, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Having the trail encourages health and wellness across the nation, he said.
“We are proud to say P.E.I. is the second province to fully connect the trail.”
The president of Cycling P.E.I. and a regular user of the Trans Canada Trail, David Sims was excited to hear about the completion of the Island’s section of the trail, but more work needs to be done to make the trail safer, he said.
Completion will create more use and with more use comes more demand for changes. One would be to create a wider trail, said Sims.
“So we officially completed the trail, but haven’t.”
Sims hopes to see another metre added to the trail for safer use, or to incorporate separate lanes for cyclers and those using the trail on foot. This would allow all users to walk and bike without fear of collision or other injuries.
“It’s not as simple as it sounds. Just to add another metre to a trail is not easy.”
The idea of a wider trail has yet to be discussed among Trans Canada Trail representatives, he said.
“It’s going to be a constant battle.”