Trent Lakes Mayor Janet Clarkson believes that a key to economic development for the Township of Trent Lakes has been presented to them on a silver platter by the federal and provincial governments and their “Trail Town” initiative.
The federal government through Parks Canada, and Rural Tourism Ontario, after much discussion and debate has decided to provide seed money and advertising muscle so that all the communities that front the Trent-Severn Waterways can better market themselves to the flood of summer tourists who utilize the 386 kilometer canal route that starts in Trenton on Lake Ontario and ends in Port Severn on Lake Huron. The entire system is managed by Parks Canada and with its 44 locks, 4500 kilometers of shorelines and 125,000 private homes and businesses that have direct access to it is an economic engine that should provide even more wealth and opportunity to Central Ontario.
Clarkson, who has been involved in municipal politics for decades, shared an early meeting with a different federal government who saw the Trent-Severn Waterway as an aging liability not worthy of further investment or upkeep. The Minister responsible for Parks Canada whose home riding was somewhere out west actually suggested to the delegation that Clarkson was part of that “it would be better if the lock system was simply allowed to be returned to nature.” Clarkson shot back that maybe the government should make the same
decision with the 401. The Minister did not see the comparison between the two until Clarkson pointed out that the Trent-Severn was the highway for her part of Ontario and one that deserved attention and support.
Local MP Barry Devolin came onside and was instrumental to passing the Trent-Severn Water Authorities Act in June of 2013 that finally provided adequate funding for the repair and upkeep of the century old system.
Clarkson said the new Liberal initiative builds on the infusion of money Devolin’s bill provided, and with the help of Rural Tourism Ontario, encourages each community to develop something unique and tourist worthy in their town that would encourage boaters to travel up and down the system looking for different experiences over a number of days.
Clarkson believes that Buckhorn’s unique experiences could include canoe and kayak rentals and the establishment of an historical walking tour of the community. Clarkson’s father was an original homesteader in the area and the Mayor believes there is a rich history in the area that deserves to be told. Clarkson says the logging history of the area and the use of the canal for that purpose is also a story that needs to be preserved and shared. Clarkson saws it “is hard for locals to see the romance of their own community” but thinks that it is time “that Trent Lakes makes the Trent Canal a new priority in their plan for economic prosperity.”