Cyclists gear up for camping adventure in Midland Park

‘Another attraction for Midland,’ says OAC after council waives bylaws to allow Little Lake Park campsite for Great Waterfront Trail Adventure cyclists

In a historic return to the city’s roots, Midland Council has waived a fee by-law to allow a collective of cyclists the pleasure of spending the night at Little Lake Park this summer.

As part of the expansion of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail in Simcoe County, a six-day bike ride called the “Great Waterfront Trail Adventure” (GWTA) will pass through Midland on August 8-9, with 160 participants expected.

Com. Bill Gordon addressed the issue at a recent regular board meeting.

“There will be 160 participants who are mostly mature cyclists from five provinces and five US states. And about 50% of them are apparently going to be staying in hotels,” Gordon said. “But the other half asked to camp. And what that’s going to mean – we had to lead the way with some changes to our rules and enforcement.

The two by-laws the council waived are the open-air burning by-law and the by-law governing municipal park bans involving camping, littering, campfires and the like.

Anticipating between 35 and 50 tents a day, the GWTA worked with city staff to ensure they would keep things clean and in good repair.

“I think it’s been a wonderful organization to work with,” said general manager David Denault.

“All I’ve heard from our team is that they’ve been very responsive, they’ve been very responsible in how they approach this. So they take care of all the logistics around that; the security, (and) whatever they need to make sure they take care of everything they bring into the facility, but also the space.

Campfires for the collective would only be permitted in the area for which they are designated – on the south side of the volleyball courts – and pending fire rating on those two dates.

Mayor Stewart Strathearn said without campfires or cooking, cyclists would have lunch at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Center where they would also store their gear overnight.

“Simcoe County has worked hard to increase the visibility of and expand Simcoe’s trail network, and harness the full cycling movement, particularly across Quebec and along the St. lower lakes,” Strathearn said.

“This is an opportunity to consider perhaps a trial balloon in terms of the heritage uses of Little Lake Park and expand our visibility in the cycling community.”

The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a legacy initiative of a 1992 commission recommendation by the Hon. David Crobie. Through Simcoe County expansion, 255 kilometers including Big Chute and Thunder Beach bike loops were added last summer to the 3,600 kilometer trail stretching from Quebec to Lake Superior.

In 2019, the GWTA had an estimated economic impact of $143,000 on local communities and associated overnight hosts.

Denault added, “I think it’s a great example of how that kind of economic benefit, along with the use of a beautiful venue, can be just another attraction for Midland.”

Gordon noted the councilor’s endorsement. Cody Oschefski as something the two had discussed beforehand.

“It’s like a proof of concept…undoing some of the historic uses of Little Lake Park.” Gordon said. “And here’s a perfect example where there’s an event coming to town and people want to enjoy our beautiful Little Lake Park and this beautiful soft grass, and that’s going to happen this summer.”

The Great Lakes Shoreline Trail Report for Little Lake Park is available in full on the board’s agenda on the Town of Midland website.

Further information on the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure is available on the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail website.

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