Former President George Bush Sr. was castigated by his opponents and the media when he lamented he was not very good at the “vision thing.”

Arguably, many leaders, at all levels of government, suffer from the same inability to grasp the big picture. It is fair to say that the same dilemma affects people from all walks of life, whether it be running a business, improving a family’s lot in life, or even fulfilling one’s own ambitions. The path of least resistance has been chosen by many.

Now and again, examples of people participating in the larger context of community building are recognized for their work. Regrettably, many are recognized posthumously but it is always better late than never. This week, however, Deryk and Shirley Smith were honoured for their work on the trail system that runs from Elora to Cataract. As detailed in our article this week there were several other people and groups who helped, too, and they will earn their place in history as people with vision and the good sense to recognize the potential and opportunity that was afforded what is now Centre Wellington back in the late 1980s.

The abandonment of railway lines still nags us as being a large mistake, the extent of which will not be known for some time. The ability to use those corridors with some sense of immediacy compared to full-blown environmental assessments required for new rail corridors is now lost, since the current custodians (and understandably so) will not easily hand over their trailways for mass transit.

The sale of rail lines to private landowners was a further example of simple, shortsighted thinking since it created a patchwork of ownership in the communities that went that way. Our columnist, Barrie Hopkins wrote about the merits of keeping the railway lands for a trail system nearly 20 years ago, showing great foresight.

Tom Skimson, the chairman of the current Elora Cataract Trail Association highlighted the importance of the trail within the greater context of a Canada-wide trail, which is still incomplete. The enormity of that proposition will be dealt with handily by “Smiths” across the country, focused on leaving a legacy for future generations.

As planning and land use, driven in large part by infrastructure costs, evolves to smaller lots with greater density, Centre Wellington residents will have this group to thank for interlinking the community with some very valuable and much used green space.

Lucky for us, the “vision thing” lives on with folks like the trail people.