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North Shore Trail aid coming 0 

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Saturday, September 17, 2011 10:02:59 EDT AM

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Barrie's North Shore Trail could get a helping hand from its neighbours.

Councillors will consider a motion Monday to have volunteer groups help maintain the pathway, under city staff supervision.

"We asked for that amendment," said Sarah Uffelmann, who lives on nearby Kempenfelt Drive. "We don't know how that will fly. They had always wanted us to be hands-off."

Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth, who represents this part of Barrie, likes the idea.

"I support volunteer groups assisting with the maintenance of the trail," she said.

"Just as many people participate in designated clean-up days in the city. Similarly, volunteers working along with city foresters would be helpful.

"I believe those interested would make a positive, cost-neutral contribution

towards the beautification of our community and neighbourhood."

The North Shore Trail is a continuous, four-metre wide limestone path built on the old CN Rail bed, from the bottom of Mulcaster Street to Barrie's eastern limit, at Penetanguishene Road.

Councillors will also deal Monday with updating the North Shore Trail vegetation management plan, which would be phased in during a two-year period.

It includes removing all tress, branches and shrubs within one metre horizontally and 3.5 metres vertically from the trail's surface, pruning of an additional two metres along the trail, removing dead, diseased or hazardous trees from the trail's vicinity, as well as non-native, invasive vegetation from the trail corridor and replanting ones native to this area.

Existing views will be maintained, and more aggressive stump removal will be considered.

"I think it's probably as good as we can hope for," Uffelmann said. "There are people who want it to be entirely natural, those who want it urbanized. I think this is a good balance."

The city hired a new forestry journeyman this year, so the maintenance can be done at no extra cost. The annual budget for maintaining the trail is $33,500.

Uffelmann says the city could use help from volunteers nonetheless.

"Our concern is they won't be able to keep up with the growth of the underbrush,' she said. "If they give us a little latitude to help, they might be able to keep it under control.

"They should allow us to help with vegetation removal. I've always suggested we be used as a resource."

Ainsworth said having residents work on city property is not a first in Barrie.

"A precedent has already been set which even included the naming of a woods to honour Mr. Renny DeBoer, for his unsupervised vegetation management efforts in another area of the city," she said.

DeBoer, 83, the former city gardener, made wood-chipped trails, flowerbeds and built benches in the ravine area north of Hurst Drive, near Lovers Creek.

It was recently named 'Renny DeBoer's Woods'.

Residents have said vegetation growth obscures sight lines along the trail for users, and makes it difficult for neighbours to see onto the trail. Both are safety concerns, as is access because there are few entry and exit points.

Last year a survey showed that of 121 trail users, 90% supported opening up the view to and from the trail.

The North Shore Master Plan, approved by a previous council, depicts this corridor as a people place, a multi-use trail along the waterfront, Ainsworth said.

bbruton@thebarrieexaminer.com