The Manitoba government is investing an additional $ 2.5 million in establishing the Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund to help create, maintain, and expand recreational trails across the province.
“Our government recognizes the Manitoban’s increased demand for hiking and the need for outdoor recreation,” said Derek Johnson, minister for community relations. “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 hiking trails in our province and enable Manitobans to participate in activities that are beneficial to their health and wellbeing while following public health guidelines . “
The Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund was developed in partnership with Trails Manitoba to provide grants totaling up to $ 2.5 million to ensure equitable, nationwide support for trail projects in our urban centers outside of Winnipeg. These funds will encourage working with local organizations and communities to expand and improve trails, Johnson noted, adding that the total investment complements similar investments previously dedicated to the city of Winnipeg.
“We have seen phenomenal growth in the number of people using our provincial parks and hiking trails, so there is interest in this type of expansion,” said Minister for Conservation and Climate Change Sarah Guillemard. “The Department of Conservation and Climate is preparing a trails strategy that will guide the development and maintenance of a provincial network of trails for a variety of activities including hiking, biking, snowmobiling, and ATV, giving Manitobans more opportunities to safely explore this great province . “
In 2020, the province allocated $ 7.5 million to be administered by the Winnipeg Foundation and administered by Trails Manitoba to set up trail-related funds, including operating funds for Trails Manitoba, the Trails Grant for Manitoba and the special Grant Trail for Winnipeg. The demand for trails and active transportation has enthusiastically exceeded expectations from across the province, noted Guillemard.
“Trails Manitoba received an incredible response to our request for hiking trails grant applications last winter,” said Erik Dickson, President of Trails Manitoba. “This additional investment in trails enables us to respond to many more meritorious grant applications for trail development and maintenance projects across Manitoba. As more Manitobans seek ways to stay active, improve their mental health, and explore their province, this funding will allow us to further enhance our province’s hiking opportunities and ensure its long-term viability for future generations. “
The Manitoba government has consulted stakeholders on Provincial Trails Strategy and reached the public earlier this year through a survey on EngageMB, which received more than 2,000 responses. Almost half of those surveyed said they had used more hiking trails since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Activities include a range of uses, including hiking, horseback riding, ATV driving, and paddling on waterways. 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 trailmanitoba.ca.