Thursday, November 27, 2014

Walking to Sustainability

This is a topic that has been weighing on my mind for some time.  I have been wanting to push it further but my time has been tied up with other things.  The weight got to heavy however, and so I want to have a discussion with folks from around Kings County, NB who want to push recreational trails to the forefront.  They can serve a multitude of benefits and in a region such as Kings County they can easily highlight the natural beauty, the history, and the people.

Kings County is blessed with rural, rustic beauty that can be accessed by anyone willing to walk for a while.  Walking is the most environmentally friendly source of transportation and is refreshing for the soul.  Typically I enjoy walking in the wilderness but I understand that not everyone is comfortable being off a trail.  Luckily we have some great trails in the Sussex area.

Trails connect parts of our community and provide those near it with an avenue to health and wellness.  In today's environment it is great to have a "walkable" community.  We have a great trail here, but there are still some parts of our community that are not yet connected.  Potential exists for a number of new trails and extensions of trails that already exist.

Imagine a trail meandering along Ward's Creek, or even Parson's Brook.  Such trails could connect Magnolia Avenue, Fowler Avenue, and Skyline Acres to the existing trails and to each other.  People near these corridors could more easily connect to their neighbors, would more likely take a bike ride, and thus be more physically and spiritually healthy.

The required green built for such a trail system could provide much more than simply a walking corridor.  With proper planning and some time, it could serve as wildlife habitat and a buffer to protect our waterways.  The trees that exist in the green belt could help buffer our regions carbon foot print or help filter some of our air to assist some of those with breathing or other health issues.  The green belt would resist impacts due to flooding and also mitigate some of the impacts to existing infrastructure during flood events.  Let's face it any effective flood mitigation approach would greatly enhance our community.

Going beyond the urban setting, a hiking or mountain biking trail could readily connect Sussex to Apohaqui or Waterford.  This strengthens our region and brings us all closer together.  Looking towards Waterford, a hiking trail with the proper corridor could showcase spectacular ridges, waterfalls, caves, and ravines.  This could quickly grow our tourism industry and stabilize our economy and dare I say, remove our need for shale gas.

Winter time does not mean the trail sits dormant either.  Sections of the trail could be designated as cross country skiing while other sections could be set aside for snowshoeing, and it wouldn't be a stretch to create a sliding hill somewhere along the trail either. 

So maybe our area could improve our walkability and by doing so enhance our environmental health and economic sustainability.  This type of action can't happen overnight and it would require many hours of planning and insight.  It will take leadership and sacrifice, time and money, and land and resources, all things that we have in our region.  If this is something you might want to contribute to contact me and I'd love to chat about it.
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