Since its creation in 1992 the Waterfront Trail strives to connect urban and rural areas, and reconnect people to their communities and Great Lakes Waterfront. The Waterfront Trail serves as the linkage between over 405 parks and natural areas including wetlands, forests and beaches and stretches across 1400 km of shoreline from the eastern border of Ontario to the northwest (2). Over the years the trail has become a local favorite for leisure and recreation and is a place where people can go to reconnect with nature.
Locally, Toronto and Durham Region have made (and continue to make) a number of improvements for enhanced accessibility along their portions of the Waterfront Trail. A lot of work has gone into creating and enhancing trail segments, and now many neighboring communities are working collaboratively to link their sections for increased functionality.
The Town of Ajax was the first community along the Waterfront Trail to achieve a completely off-road asphalt trail from end to end. The continuous stretch winds past a number of washroom and refreshment locations, a splash pad for kids, and natural landscapes giving pedestrians, dog-walkers, and bike users more accessibility. The scenic views and regenerated ecosystems found here are encouraging more people out of their houses where they can appreciate Lake Ontario and our beautiful waterfront. The sense of pride and community, undeniable among those who frequent the trail is helping to deepen appreciation and encourage protection of the significant ecosystems and landscapes it passes through.
Over the years the ‘Waterfront Trail vision’ has led to the collaboration of Municipal and Conservation Authorities and volunteers across the entire Great Lakes waterfront in Ontario, and more people than ever are coming together to fund and contribute to a healthier and more vibrant waterfront. The trail is a direct result of hundreds of small regeneration projects and with 140 projects currently planned, underway or proposed to improve the waterfront and Waterfront Trail it is now an important driver for future regeneration projects(2).
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is currently working in Scarborough to create a linking system of trails and greenspaces along the water’s edge which “respect and protect the significant natural and cultural features of the Bluffs, enhance the terrestrial and aquatic habitat, and provide a safe and enjoyable waterfront experience" (1). The project is set to span from Bluffer’s Park to East Point in Toronto and will focus on increasing environmental sustainability, public access and tourism opportunities.
Exploring nature by walking, running or biking along the trail is a great way to leave the stress of a busy day behind and squeeze in some fun and scenic recreation. With all the work that has been completed and is planned for the trail, this summer is shaping up to be the perfect time to explore a piece of Waterfront near you! Hopefully this initiative, and the deepened appreciation of our green spaces which comes from it, will ensure we have a healthy and vibrate waterfront in the future. We have the gift of a beautiful and extensive waterfront right at our fingertips; it’s important to appreciate and protect it.
Written by: Alyssa Beurling
Find an interactive PDF Trail Map, trail descriptions and tourism information here.
- Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. (2015). Scarborough Waterfront Project. Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/n2umqng
Waterfront Regeneration Trust: Waterfront Trail. (2013). Leading the movement for waterfront regeneration on Canada’s Great Lakes. Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/kmuem5t