GRCA reopening some trails, parks for limited day use starting May 16

Visitors asked to plan short visits, practice physical distancing, and carry out garbage/pet waste

WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) will reopen the remainder of the Elora Cataract Trailway this weekend.

The move, effective on Saturday (May 16), was among a number of reopenings announced by the GRCA late in the day on May 15.

“The GRCA recognizes the importance of access to nature for community health and wellbeing,” says Helen Jowett, GRCA board chair.

“Our board has been hearing from many watershed residents and we know they are eager to be in nature.

“GRCA staff are taking a responsible approach to reopening properties, doing so in stages, while maintaining critical services.”

Officials originally announced on March 22 that GRCA properties would close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Elora Cataract Trailway section between Elora and Fergus was reopened earlier this month under a mutual agreement with the Township of Centre Wellington.

Other May 16 GRCA reopenings include:

  • the GRCA’s sections of the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail;
  • the Brantford to Hamilton Rail Trail for biking and hiking; and
  • Laurel Creek (Waterloo) and Shade’s Mills (Cambridge) conservation areas for recreational activities such as walking and birdwatching (fishing and boating are not permitted at this time).

“Visitors are reminded to practice physical distancing by staying at least two metres or six feet apart, and not to congregate in groups,” states the May 15 press release.

“The GRCA is also asking the public to plan short visits to trails and conservation areas that have been reopened to ensure the space can be shared with all those looking to get outside and into nature. Parking is limited.”

All buildings and on-site facilities, including washrooms, gatehouses, picnic areas, playgrounds, beaches and docks in these areas will remain closed, officials added.

In addition, no garbage receptacles will be available and visitors are asked to carry any garbage or pet waste out with them.

“At this time, all other GRCA conservation areas and properties owned and managed by the GRCA remain closed, and camping is not permitted at any GRCA conservation area,” officials stated.

“It is still uncertain when the GRCA will be able to offer camping in its Grand River Parks. It takes at least four weeks to prepare the parks for overnight camping. The GRCA is updating its plan, and further information will be shared regarding seasonal camping on May 20.”

The GRCA will be reopening its properties in stages, and information about additional properties reopening will also be shared on May 20.

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