The Waterfront Regeneration Trust is a small registered charity leading a partnership of over 155 communities, First Nations, public and private organizations, and all orders of government to implement, expand, promote and maintain the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. Since 1995, the Trail has been recognized as the first step of a broader strategy to regenerate the waterfront as part of the Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy developed by the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and its partners.
The goal of the Strategy is to foster a commitment to actions that will regenerate a healthy and sustainable waterfront that is clean, green, accessible, connected, open, usable, diverse, affordable, and attractive. As of 2021, the Trail is roughly 3,600 km long, extending from the Quebec Border on the St. Lawrence River to Sault Ste Marie near Lake Superior. The entire 3,600 km are signed and mapped. Interactive and downloadable maps and recommended itineraries are available to the public for free. Experiencing the Trail fosters a sense of stewardship, that supports the goal of a protected waterfront. There is a lot of Trail, making for a lot of experiences.
Funds donated to the Trust assist us in our ongoing projects to expand, promote and improve the Trail and to support our community partners in their own ongoing regeneration work. Here are some of the successes of nearly 25 years of Great Lakes Waterfront Trail:
- Working with MTO Eastern region to extend the trail at the western terminus of the Thousand Island Parkway by one kilometre to connect to bike lanes on HWY 2. The project vastly improves trail user safety.
- Closing the west Whitby gap with an expansion that connects two provincially significant wetlands and the Lynde Shore Conservation Area to the Trail in partnership with Durham Region
- Creation of 1200 km Lake Ontario Watershed network with 9 signed connector routes between the Greenbelt Route and the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail in partnership with the Greenbelt Foundation.
- Establishing the first signed continuous route in Northern Ontario between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. Involved securing participation from the Province to add wide shoulders to 50km of provincial highway needed to achieve a continuous route.
- 10 major waterfront promenades
- 3 bridges
- Improvements to 16 waterfront parks
- 7 new cultural heritage facilities
- Interpretation of 15 waterfront habitats
- 3 major brownfield rehabilitation projects
- 18 significant waterfront habitat restoration projects
- 2 harbour/marina revitalization projects
- Award-winning trail-user resources
- 77% of Ontario cyclists are aware of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail
- Attracted 3 major events to Trail from outside Ontario
- Great Waterfront Trail Adventure-popular annual cycling event showcasing progress on the waterfront and bringing knowledge about the Trail to more and more people
- The majority Lake Ontario communities have a vision for the waterfront (82%) and for public waterfront access (89%).
- 140+ projects planned or underway on the waterfront led by community partners.
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail is a foundational piece of the growing province-wide cycle network, serves as a backbone for emerging active transportation strategies in smaller communities, and as a common ground for community partners across Southern Ontario and the Near North.