Editor's note: On Feb. 17 Northern Life hosted the eighth annual Community Builders Awards of Excellence. Over the next several weeks, we will be publishing profiles of the winners in upcoming issues.
The Rainbow Routes Association is the winner of the 2011 Community Builders Award in the Sports and Recreation category. This grassroots organization also wins kudos for the contributions it has made to the environment and to economic development.
With 330 lakes within the city limits and hundreds of hectares of wide open space in between, the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors is one of this region's most attractive qualities. For the past 13 years, a group of citizens known as the Rainbow Routes Association has been developing a network of trails that make appreciating Greater Sudbury's natural beauty more accessible. This citizens' group is committed to encouraging active lifestyles in a healthy environment. The association is working to make Sudbury the most pedestrian friendly city in Ontario by 2015 as the lead agency in the development of the Sustainable Mobility Plan for the City of Greater Sudbury.
(In 2010 Rainbow Routes received a Healthy Community Recognition Award from the Healthy Community Cabinet for its work on the Sustainable Mobility Plan.)
Incorporated in 1998, the not-for-profit organization and registered charity has built recreational and commuter routes—200 kilometres winding throughout the city—for residents and tourists to enjoy by waking, hiking, jogging, cycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing.
One of Rainbow Routes' missions is to develop Greater Sudbury's portion of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT). Many of Rainbow Routes' trail projects link the city's existing patchwork of trails with the TCT. The trail winds its way from Nairn Centre in the west, through the city towards Coniston, and eventually to North Bay in the east. The association's goal for 2011 is to move forward with the completion of the TCT (117 kilometres in total).
Rainbow Routes had a busy 2010. An updated bilingual trail map was published and a user-friendly website was launched.
The Copper Cliff Trail, a two-kilometre pathway that runs parallel with Municipal Road 55 from Balsam Street to Kelly Lake Road, opened. The two-kilometre shared-use path, which runs along the south side of Ramsey Lake Road connecting Sudbury Regional Hospital and Science North to Laurentian University, was completed with an official opening planned for this spring.
Executive director Debbie McIntosh said she is proud of the work the association has done, but admits, “nothing has been easy.”
Every step of the way has required goodwill, generous suppliers, volunteers, funders, and partnerships with the city and business/landowners. A complete list of Rainbow Routes' partner organizations is available at www.rainbowroutes.ca.
“When you look back at what we have done, it is satisfying...It is rewarding to see people use trails that weren't there five or 10 years ago,” McIntosh said.
Citizens can get involved in Rainbow Routes Association by making a donation, volunteering or taking part in any of its events. Rainbow Routes has a monthly Hike Club which is a great way to discover new routes and meet other individuals who enjoy spending time out on the trails.
The Rainbow Routes Hike Club runs on the first Saturday of each month between October and June. Hikes are generally two hours long and range in difficulty from easy to challenging. Each month a new trail is selected in order to provide a sampling of the city's trails.
Rainbow Routes Board of Directors
Executive Judy Courtemanche, president
Pete Levan, vice-president
Leslie McDermid, treasurer
Carol Craig, secretary
Directors Robert Humphrey, Stan Koren, Peter Beckett, Samantha Baulch, Jouka Rantala, Jeff MacIntyre and Kevin Chisholm.