Long time Rossburn Subdivision Trail Association member Tom Lawless was presented with an honorary life membership by Association Chair Doreen Stapleton at the group's annual general meeting on March 12.
Now that the last major upgrade to the Rossburn Subdivision Trail is nearing completion, letting people know just what the trail has to offer is a top priority for those in charge of overseeing the 172 km section of TransCanada Trail (TCT) stretching between Russell and Neepawa.
"A key goal for the next few years is awareness," said Doreen Stapleton, in her chairperson's report at the annual general meeting of the Rossburn Subdivision Trail Association (RSTA) on March 12. "We have done, and continue to do, major and minor infrastructure efforts to make our portion of the TransCanada Trail better and more attractive. Now we want to get more people out there using it!"
With this in mind, the RSTA is planning a trail relay event for the first week of June. "We hope to get as many people out on the trail as possible to commemorate International Trails Day - walking, biking or horseback riding as individuals, groups or schools." RSTA is using this as an opportunity to see what works, explained Stapleton. "We are treating this as a pilot year and hope to turn it into an annual event."
Another project in the works for this spring is some major tree planting in the Erickson area, spear headed by RSTA member Dave Walker. A large, new trail sign will also be erected at the intersection of Highways 10 and 45.
These additions will complement the work carried out over the past few years, which included the complete refurbishing of the trail in 2009 and 2010. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the last phase of this work - the replacement of the Birdtail Bridge - is nearing completion.
The focus in 2011 was dealing with major spring flooding throughout the entire aea. "Repairs were made with help from Manitoba Recreational Trail Association (MRTA) through their maintenance grant program with the liberal assistance of the rural municipalities of Minto and Rossburn," explained Stapleton. "The MRTA and the R.M. of Harrison joined RSTA to fix the large 'slip' in the trail at Proven Lake. The R.M. of Rosedale repaired a damaged area of the trail on their own and we appreciate their generosity in doing so."
Stapleton also expressed her gratitude for the support of the 13 municipal and town councils along the RST, which passes through the communities of Silverton, Angusville, Birdtail, Waywayseecappo, Rossburn, Vista, Oakburn, Menzie, Elphinstone, Sandy Lake, Rackham, Erickson, Clanwilliam, and Bethany. "We are grateful for the relationships cultivated with these groups in the past, and look forward to a continued flourishing association in the future."
Although major upgrades have been completed, work must continue to stay on top of the heavy demands along this vast span of trail. "We still have smaller spots that require immediate and constant attention, and we plan to address these sections with the same persistent zeal," commented Stapleton.
She was also pleased that the R.M. of Park recently joined the RSTA, with Ed Mazur acting as their representative.
In fact, the RSTA invested a fair bit of time and energy last year in trying to secure funding to construct a network of four connector trails from the TCT to the Riding Mountain National Park's Trail system, within the R.M. of Park. "A huge part of our year has been spent in compiling the federal grant application for this project," said Stapleton. "At this time, however, our grant application has been deferred to allow other linear portions of the TCT to be completed first. We are encouraged that funds could still be available for our proposal, but the prioritizing of other provincial and federal TCT projects takes precedence. Being eternal optimists, we continue to believe our dream is not 'dead in the water', but just on hold for now," she commented to the 29 in attendance at the meeting, which included: Judy Snitynsky from Robert Sopuck's office; Leanne Rowat, MLA for Riding Mountain; Robert Sheldon, RMNP Superintendent; Howard Skrypnyk, Trails Consultant for Manitoba; Melissa Sitter, Executive Director MRTA; reeves and mayors from municipalities and towns on the trail; Parks Canada representatives; and RSTA board representatives.
A special highlight of the meeting was the presentation of an Honoray Life Membership to longtime RSTA member, Tom Lawless of Rossburn. Lawless has been an intricate part of the RST since its conception in 1997. "We appreciate and respect all of his accomplishments," said Stapleton, "be it through his many years sitting at our board table, or his active involvement with Snowtraxx Snowmobile Club, or his generous term on the Manitoba Recreational Trails Association Board. His judgement, wisdom and attitude are always a welcome addition to any meeting. Tom has become our "Go-to" guy in so many issues and his exclusive history with the Trail cannot be duplicated."
Lawless has announced that he will not be seeking re-election to the MRTA Board, said Stapleton, adding, "Everyone on our Board agrees that Tom's devoted involvement with the Trans Canada Trail merits special consideration and acknowledgment. He deservedly has our respect and admiration. The TCT is a better place because of Tom Lawless."