A day with Collingwood’s Mr. Trail 0
When I headed to George Christie's house for a bike ride I expected a quick tour around town because I hadn’t yet realized how expansive the Collingwood trail system is.
Christie has been ‘nominated’ by a couple of people to be an unsung hero because he has worked for more than 20 years to create and improve the approximately 60 kilometres of trails that stretch through and around town.
After about three hours of biking I gained a true appreciation for how much work Christie and the trails committee have done over the years.
Christie said he became interested in improving the system because there was no way for him to get his snowmobile up to the mountain.
“I set about trying to find a route and that's what got me started,” he said.
Then a few years later the trails committee was formed , a sub-group of the Parks, Recreation & Culture Advisory Committee, and Christie became a member because he enjoyed the work.
“It's something I just like doing,” he said. “It started out with a purpose and the purpose has just continued to grow.”
“We attract just hundreds of people to Collingwood because of our trails system,” said Christie.
While out on the trails, he has met and chatted with people on the trail from all over North America and even overseas.
“It's amazing the places they come from,” he said.
The trails are used by hikers, bikers, people using snowmobiles — and even the O.P.P. use the trails on snowmobiles during the wintertime.
The committee has raked stone dust, cut brush away from the path, and laid geotech-style matting. They also made the trails more accessible and easy to navigate by placing more than 450 signs along the trails. Some of the signs include co-ordinates that can be used in emergency situations.
They created the Collingwood Trails Map which is now in its eighth edition. Every couple of years approximately 70,000 maps are distributed from about 100 locations around the trails and in town.
The map marks the distance of the connecting 25 trails, different landmarks and the type of path.
Christie said he is happy with the work to date but that there is still progress to be made. “We want to keep improving them and upgrading where we can,” he said.
While on the trails Christie keeps track of their state and takes note along the way. At one point during our bike ride he even stopped to cut down some over hanging trees with a small pocket knife.
Christie said initially the trails were met with a lot of resistance by developers, but now they recognize their attractiveness to buyers — so developers are now connecting their projects to the trails.
He said a study was conducted a few years ago that showed that the Georgian Trail, separate from the Collingwood Trail System, brings in $5 million a year to surrounding municipalities.
“Everybody enjoys the trails and that's what it's all about.,” said Christie.
For a video tour of the Collingwood Trail System, head to our website at www.theenterprisebulletin.ca