Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 10 a.m.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU has weighed in now on the controversy surrounding the future of the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail.
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, EOHU chief medical health officer, sent a letter, in both French and English, to the Warden Guy Desjardins of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) asking Desjardins and his fellow mayors on the counties council to consider how important the trail is as a public health resource for both exercise and recreation.
Counties council and staff have been reviewing the rising cost to the UCPR of maintaining the popular recreational trail. Continued funding for the trail is part of the current discussions for the operations portion of the 2017 UCPR budget.
The trail route is still the actual property of VIA Rail under the terms of a user-lease arrangement with the counties. Warden Desjardins noted during Wednesday’s committee of the whole session that if the counties gave in to demands from some trail users for paving the entire length of the trail, then the UCPR could later face the expense of having to remove all that pavement should VIA Rail decide in future that it wanted to take back full possession of the old railway bed route.
During Wednesday’s counties council session, several mayors indicated their municipalities might be willing to take on as a local function the cost of maintaining the sections of the trail route which pass through their communities.