Leading the Movement for Waterfront Regeneration on Canada’s Great Lakes

Our vision is a regenerated Great Lakes waterfront. Some time ago we recognized that one of the best ways to achieve that goal was to create a Waterfront Trail. The Trail would connect communities, urban and rural areas, natural areas to cultural centres. Most important, connect people to their Great Lakes waterfront. In doing so, we understood that they would be inspired to become advocates for a healthy, vibrant waterfront.

The WRT and its Municipal and Conservation Authority partners have embraced a vision for a continuous Great Lakes Waterfront Trail stretching from the eastern border of Ontario to the northwest, incorporating all of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River waterfront in Ontario.

Rooted in the principles that have guided the development of the Waterfront Trail from its beginnings in 1992 we envision a Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that is ‘complete and connected,’ an integral part of each ecosystem it passes through, enhancing the environment, economy, society and history of every community that participates in the development and use of the Trail. Today the Trail is more than 1600km and is both a catalyst for and a result of hundreds of regeneration projects.

State of the Trail Inventory
The WRT has set up a new system that enables Municipal and Conservation Authority partners, and volunteers to submit updates and information digitally through this website. It also allows the development of benchmarks to measure progress, and an inventory of such things as trail attributes, examples of waterfront regeneration projects along the route, and upcoming investments. There are currently 140 projects planned, underway or proposed to improve the waterfront and Waterfront Trail.

The Google Maps allow regional and municipal partners and volunteers to post their feedback, and going forward will be used to update and track changes or proposed improvements to the Trail.

The WRT collaborated with a group of volunteer planning professionals to define the Trail inventory categories. As guides, they used the 2007 Lake Ontario Trail Audit results, and the new, Ontario Ministry of Transportation 1.5 metre On-road Paved Shoulder Recommendation. The inventory criteria categorizes some sections as having narrow or no shoulders; however, because of their low traffic counts they are thought to be appropriate for many types of trail users. Further discussion is required on how best to categorize these sections for future trail audits.

Our partners have developed excellent websites describing their leading work in detail. For example:

Toronto Region Conservation

Waterfront Toronto

Report Your Trail Improvement Project – Help Us Build the Waterfront Trail Inventory