Community effort tackles project that makes a difference

  Gary and Shelley Turnbull see The Great Trail as part of their wilderness backyard.  Photo supplied

Gary and Shelley Turnbull see The Great Trail as part of their wilderness backyard. Photo supplied

When Gary Turnbull talks about improving the Penniac Bay Shoreline Trail in Manitoba, his enthusiasm for this Trail section shines through. Thanks to the steadfast efforts of his local Trail group and TCT’s support, a one-kilometre section of this spectacular trail will be moved from a busy roadway to a new greenway trail. 

While Mr. Turnbull prefers to dwell on the contribution of others rather than his own role, it’s clear that his passion was the driving force behind the team effort of community members, donors and agencies.

“Over the past 12 years, the South Whiteshell Trail Association and the community have built 100 kilometres of trail, but due to issues with funding and approvals, this remained the most conspicuous gap in our trail system,” says Mr. Turnbull, who joined the board of the association after his retirement six years ago. 

“I wanted to give back to the community, and have enjoyed the camaraderie, passion and dedication of like-minded people.” 

When Mr. Turnbull became president of the association, he wanted to “tackle a project that makes a difference,” he says. “The gap is in a section where rocks were blasted off a cliff face when the original highway was built. People walking along that stretch currently have to use the edge of the narrow highway.” 

The community’s stated goal was “to build a shoreline trail that offers beautiful views of the lake,” says Mr. Turnbull. A tremendous community effort followed. The local Chamber of Commerce provided seed funding to help secure TCTfunding. A landscape architecture and design firm, Scatliff+Miller+Murray, donated the initial design concept, and Stantec Winnipeg prepared an initial engineering plan free of charge. 

 “With the plans, we were able to get all the relevant provincial and federal environmental approvals,” he says. And, with a combination of funding from government, non-profit organizations and private sources, reaching the fundraising goal of about $400,000 is well within sight, adds Mr. Turnbull. “Since the momentum is there, people are inclined to support the project.” 

What made it happen was the collective effort from citizens, organizations and different levels of government, says Mr. Turnbull, who adds that he uses and appreciates The Great Trail in all seasons.  

“It's a highlight of our cottage, and we consider the Trail as part of our wilderness backyard. It also connects the communities in our area,” he says. “I see my passion for the Trail as the best way of celebrating being Canadian.”