The Manitoba government is investing an additional $2.5 million to establish the Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund in order to help create, maintain and expand recreational trails across the province.
“Our government recognizes the increased demand among Manitobans for trail activities and the need for outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Municipal Relations Minister Derek Johnson. “Outdoor recreation is very important and one of the safest ways to support physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will help support the development and maintenance of new trails across our province, giving Manitobans opportunities to engage in activities that are beneficial for their health and well-being while following public health guidelines.”
The Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund has been developed in partnership with Trails Manitoba to provide grants totalling up to $2.5 million to help ensure equitable, provincewide support for trail projects in our urban centres outside of Winnipeg. These funds will encourage collaboration with local organizations and municipalities for trail expansions and improvements, Johnson noted, adding that the total investment complements similar investment previously dedicated to the City of Winnipeg.
“We have seen phenomenal growth in the number of people using our provincial parks and our trails, so there is interest in this type of expansion,” said Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard. “The Department of Conservation and Climate is preparing a trails strategy that will guide the development and maintenance of a provincial trail network for a variety of activities including hiking, cycling, snowmobiling and off-road vehicle riding that will give Manitobans more ways to safely explore this great province.”
In 2020, the province committed $7.5 million in funding to be managed by The Winnipeg Foundation and administered by Trails Manitoba for the establishment of trail-related funds including operating funding for Trails Manitoba, the Trails Grant for Manitoba and the dedicated Trails Grant for Winnipeg. The demand for trails and active transportation routes has exceeded all expectations with enthusiasm from across the province, Guillemard noted.
“Trails Manitoba saw an incredible response to our call for trail grant applications this past winter,” said Erik Dickson, president, Trails Manitoba. “This additional investment in trails will allow us to respond to many more meritorious grant applications for trail development and maintenance projects throughout Manitoba. As more Manitobans look to trails to stay active, improve their mental health and explore their province, this funding will allow us to continue to improve our province’s trail offerings and ensure their long-term viability for future generations to enjoy.”
The Manitoba government has consulted stakeholders about the provincial trails strategy and reached out to the public earlier this year through a survey on EngageMB that brought more than 2,000 responses. Nearly half of respondents confirmed they have used trails more since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with activities covering a range of uses including hiking, horseback riding, off-road vehicle riding and paddling on water routes. A full report on the Manitoba Trails Strategy survey will be released along with the strategy itself in the coming months.
For more information on the Trails Grant program, visit trailsmanitoba.ca.