Lakeshore Resident Campaigns for Bike Lanes

We all have a point we reach when we decide to stop talking and start doing. Most recently, I hit
this point when I realized that day after day, I walk, bike, run or see others doing the same on
the winding roads in St. Joachim while cars speed by.

Many of my neighbours also express frustration over the lack of safety they feel while travelling
in their town. I understand people’s frustration, but what concerns me most, is seeing youth on
their bikes or elderly with bikes or walkers on the streets.

I biked these roads as a kid, and my grandparents walked them for years. With the increase in
traffic and development now is the time to make the roads safer for everyone. We do not want
this change to come only after a serious accident occurs.

I have long known about the intention to build a trail on County Rd 31 and the East Ruscom
River Road from Old Tecumseh Road to County Road 42, due to past community advocacy and
town support.

However, somewhere along the line, the project was removed from the list of proposed trails.
One day, I decided I had two options, I could either keep complaining about the lack of facilities
or I could try to find out what happened to the old project.

A quick email to my councillor Tracey Bailey, ended up resulting in much more than I imagined.
She encouraged me to start a petition. So I did, both online and on paper. With help, petitions
were placed around town and door to door canvassing took place. All of a sudden whole town
was talking, and the former petition from years ago resurfaced as well.

With the petition in hand and our councillor’s support, we managed to get placed on the agenda
to speak at council. I spoke, with many community members supporting me from the chambers,
including those who championed for the trail years ago. The proposition to conduct a feasibility
study passed unanimously.

Five months later, the initial study came back, providing an overview of the suggested facilities
and requesting a further detailed feasibility study. Funds for the study were added to the
following year’s budget and the trail was added to the list of suggested projects for the County to
add to its County Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS).

We are very pleased with the support our small town has been receiving from the Town of
Lakeshore and hope to keep the momentum going.

I have learned so much from this experience, most notably, that individuals and communities
can have a greater impact than they think. As cliche as it sounds, talk to your councillor if you
are ready to make a change rather than sitting, waiting and wishing. Change requires action
and a network of supporters.

This is a guest post from Lakeshore resident Alexa Sylvestre.

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