Update on Pontiac’s recreational trail study
Trails for residents as well as tourists?


Claude Marquis, director of urban infrastructures and transport for the Génivar Consulting Group, and in charge of the trail study in the municipality of Pontiac, has produced some preliminary trail routes for discussion. The first stage is consulting with owners who could be affected by the proposed routes, to discover problems and solutions. He has asked municipal councillors to get feedback and suggestions from affected residents. This will be a particularly mammoth task for Councillor Bill Twolan in Ward 7, where there are many owners along the proposed routes.
No expropriations
Some of the proposed routes are familiar, others are new. The former rail-line on the Aylmer side of Terry Fox road is owned by the city of Gatineau, so the consultants are using this as the southern end of the trail, although no path has yet been constructed between Lattion and Terry Fox. The western end of the trail is the start of the PPJ at Wyman. Mr. Marquis says that expropriations will be avoided.
Proposals in Breckenridge
A new proposal is that a route starting at Terry Fox, either along the privately owned former rail-line or on Cedarvale road, could then move 300 feet uphill, and go along Lilas and Kawartha roads to avoid steep access points and splitting residential waterfront properties in two. However continuing on this route goes through the agricultural zone and the Nature Conservancy’s Breckenridge Creek Nature Preserve, which is unlikely to be approved. Another possibility is to cut through to Dubois from the end of Cedarvale.
A route along highway 148 south of Maple Lane is felt to be too expensive because of insufficient width. The ditch would have to be replaced with underground drains, with the trail on top, separated by a curb from the highway, for $250,000 ($100,000 per km). The ministry of Transport is gradually paving the shoulders of highway 148, but this is not seen as an option for the trail, because children under 12 are not allowed to ride on public roadways with speed limits over 50 km/h, without adult supervision. (This could be an argument for having a path in this residential area. How else do under-12s reach another trail, unless the speed limit is reduced to 50 km/h?)
North of Maple Lane there could be a trail along highway 148, taking advantage of views of the river, Gatineau Hills and historic buildings.
Another proposal is to go north on Terry Fox and cut across to Smith-Leonard along the hydro corridor or existing snowmobile trails, continuing west and north on Rivière. At some point they would like to connect to Mountain Road.
Across Luskville flats
From Rivière the route can go north and west on various municipal roads, or where there is no opposition, cut diagonally through farmland on the former rail-line. A connection to chemin du Village in Luskville is desirable, as well as to Gatineau Park via Gibson or Pilon, although the latter link conflicts with the existing horse and snowmobile trail along the edge of the escarpment. Parallel trails might be possible, but both cyclists and horse riders would need some education and consideration for other users.
A link to Eardley-Masham road, which leads to biking-hiking trails in Gatineau Park, is also required. Highway 148 is wide enough past Luskville village for a trail to be constructed at the side of the highway. Tourists on road-bikes are not expected to use a trail, because they prefer the high-speed, paved highway. Drivers will have to continue to drive carefully and share the highway.
Onslow and Quyon
West of Kennedy road the former rail-line is more often parallel to or along farm boundaries, so parts of it may be available for the trail, subject to agreement with the owners. Links to Quyon and on to Wyman, along Clarendon and MacKechnie, and to Ontario via Ferry road are proposed. Here too, a separate trail at the side of the road, “piste cyclable, site propre” is preferred to the “chaussée désignée”, where road markings indicate that bicycles may share the road, used on low traffic routes with low speed limits.
Residents must support the route
Marc Fortin of the CLD des Collines, says that when this individual consultation stage is over they will go ahead with the public meetings. They want to produce a trail with everyone’s approval and support. People in residential areas may be more in favour of trails that they too can use, which are not just for passing tourists.