Public Space
Could Ottawa South be next for a multi-use winter trail?

Could Ottawa South be next for a multi-use winter trail?

Ottawa South resident Patricia Quigley has a wintery vision. While many other parts of the city have winter multi-use trails, the Ottawa South area doesn’t. The potential of having a winter trail based around the storm water ponds connected to Sawmill Creek and the area between the Airport Parkway and the South Keys Centre and beyond is perfect though — and Patricia would know, as she has already worked on maintaining one for cross-country skiing. 

As we know with the future redevelopment plans for South Keys Centre, this location has the potential to become a hub for Ottawa South — including for recreation and commuting in the winter.

Some of the trails Patricia has made along the Sawmill Creek and Airport Parkway areas.

The vision

By having a groomed winter trail using the Sawmill Creek and Osgoode multi-use paths, which include areas all around the Sawmill Creek storm water ponds, a connecting trail that will continue to the Walkley transit station, as well as to the cycling path that leads to the roundabout by Brookfield High School just before the train tracks, and a portion of Osgoode Trail at least as far as Mitch Owens Road or Manotick Station Road in Manotick. Perhaps there is interest even as far as the main street of Osgoode village, which is already a multi-use trail during the rest of the year.

Groomed trails would encourage separate tracks for walkers, snowshoers, skiers, etc.

Why it is a good idea 

Inspired by the winter trails that cross Ottawa from East to West (see the Ski Heritage East, KichiSibi, Britannia, Ottawa West Ski Trail), the Rideau Trail that was started around two years ago, and the lack of similar trails in this part of the city, it makes sense to make use of existing paths that could easily be transformed into groomed winter trails for Ottawa South.  

People are looking for a place to go or take their families closer to home — to easily get out in nature, for commuting or recreation purposes. This little oasis of nature is right in the midst of the bustling Ottawa South hub near so many residential areas, but easily accessible by transit as well.  

A winter trail that is groomed in the middle will accommodate walkers, snowshoers, skiers (skate style), fat bikes and dogs, while groomed ski tracks on each side will accommodate skiers (classic style). Many people already try to walk/snowshoe in those areas, but struggle in the deep snow. A winter trail that is groomed will give a solid and hard base to walk and ski on which will bring more and more people to use it.

Trail made by Patricia heading towards the train tracks and Brookfield High School.

What has been done so far 

Both last and this winter Patricia has taken it on to show what could be on her own. She leaves her home with her skis on her back, walks around 1.5 km to the bridge that is over the Airport Parkway behind South Keys Centre to start the trail. Depending on the snow conditions, it could take her between five to six hours to break-in the trails. She will usually try to go through her own tracks at least twice in order to have a decent trail for the others to use. It is a lot of hard work, but Patricia thought this would help make the point to the City and show other residents in the area what could be. A broken-in trail is far from being as good as a groomed trail, as a broken-in trail does not survive well to the change of temperatures compared to a groomed trail.

So far, Patricia’s paths that she has broken in tend to be a double track all around the Sawmill Creek stormwater ponds (each loop is about 2.2 km), a single track up to Walkley Station (another 1.1 km one way), a single track up to the cycling path that leads to the roundabout near Brookfield High School near the train tracks (about another 1.25 km extra one way). The addition of the Osgoode multi-use pathway could be added in the future once the LRT construction has finished.

She has already noticed that the path around the Sawmill Creek ponds are well used with snowshoers and walkers. Overall, those users are very respectful of the ski track by not walking on that track itself. However this isn’t the case for all of it, and a groomed trail would help create the distinction for various winter modes more clearly.

While hard at work Patricia has also heard from many people she passes about how they love the idea, or would want to try it themselves, and how it would be a great addition to the area.

Patricia works hard to make the trails herself.

Next steps

Patricia has approached Councillors Bradley (Gloucester-Southgate ward) and Brockington (River ward) about her idea of a winter trail in the south end of the city, but is hoping to garner more resident support to make her case to them and the City. If this is something you support, please consider emailing the councillors at their respective websites above and let them know that you’d like to see the City support a groomed trail for Ottawa South residents.

If you’d like to learn more, or help Patricia out in the meantime, get in touch with us and we’ll connect you with Patricia.

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