HALIFAX – Volunteers building The Great Trail in Pictou County and elsewhere need more help to avoid burnout, the province was told at a standing committee meeting in Halifax Thursday.
Matt Parker, director of parks at the Department of Natural Resources, said that his office is working with local trail groups whose volunteers may be mostly seniors or retirees.
“Their challenge is to attract new volunteers,” said Parker in an email to The News Thursday.
He added that Nova Scotia's parks and trails are popular with communities and having new volunteers come forward to support their local trail is important.
Those who do step up can seek local support from recreational departments in the region, as well as Active Pictou County. Anyone interested in being part of the effort can get in contact with the Pictou County Trails Association.
Province-wide, volunteers work with the Nova Scotia Trails Federation to facilitate trail insurance and promotion and they receive financial support from the Department of Communities, Cultures and Heritage.
The province can also hire consultants to work on design and development.
“We as a government try to help where we can,” Parker told media in Halifax.
In Pictou County, the trail’s route takes in Pictou, Trenton, New Glasgow, Stellarton and Westville before turning east towards Cape Breton. It includes both land trails and a water segment on the coast for kayakers or canoeists.
“The Great Trail's connection is a major goal that has been met. In future, we'd be pleased to see innovative ideas come forward from municipalities, trail groups, or other partners [that] would further enhance the trail, such as bicycle or snowshoe rental opportunities,” said Parker.
The trails surrounding infrastructure in Pictou County has also seen improvements, according to Parker. Caribou Provincial Park’s campsites were recently upgraded with electrical hook-ups, giving visitors a comfortable place from which to explore the North Shore.
A partnership with a local walking and cycling club in the Little Harbour area has resulted in a new walking trail on Roy’s Island in Melmerby Beach Provincial Park.
While Pictou County is well connected, trails in western Nova Scotia are not yet connected to the network. The Great Trail itself is a national network of land and water trails running from coast to coast and stretching up to the Canadian Arctic. However, The Great Trail will never truly be ‘complete’ as more local trails are built and join its network.