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Digby trails coordinator busy working to develop regional gems

Jonathan Riley stands at the top of Gulliver's Cove last July in this file photo. SARA ERICSSON
Jonathan Riley stands at the top of Gulliver's Cove last July in this file photo. SARA ERICSSON

Jonathan Riley aims to support, assist and encourage trail builders and trail associations

DIGBY, N.S. - Digby has numerous outdoor gems throughout its boundaries and an official with the municipality is doing all he can to tap into this potential.

Jonathan Riley is the trails and open spaces coordinator for the Municipality of Digby.  He said trails and outdoor activities contribute not only to the general health of the population, but also spur economic growth through tourism.

“A part of what I’m going to be doing eventually to is promoting this area and promoting the opportunities, the outdoor opportunities here,” he said during a recent public meeting in Bear River.

Riley said the idea of a trail coordinator came up in 2011 when the municipality did a trails and open space strategy. The position of trails and open spaces coordinator was created and Riley said there’s been plenty to work on since he began the job last summer.

“The definition of the job is that I will support, assist and encourage trail builders and trail associations in the municipality,” he said.

“One of the biggest challenges that a lot of volunteer associations have is government red tape or beaurecracy or just all of the paper work we’ve got to do to get grants, to get permits and that’s one of the things that I can offer.”

Riley said working to improve and promote outdoor activities in the region is also a focus. For example, Riley said he’s already been working with Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia to add the Digby area to their list of destination. He noted that ten years ago, Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia surveyed the province and came up with a list of good places to launch sea kayaks. However, Digby county was not included due to concerns of tides and the landscape.

“Digby county to Yarmouth was never surveyed. So if you go on Canoe Kayak Nova Scotia list of places to canoe and kayak in the ocean, we weren’t there. So, I had conversations with them.

“We surveyed 33 sites, I helped them find out where those sites were and in the next publication…Digby county will be there.”

Riley said mountain biking trails are another opportunity to tap into. He’s been working with a group of mountain biking trail building consultants from the valley.

“We asked them to look at some of our trails in Van Tassel Lake above Digby. We want to look at a master plan for that area and what we can do up there. They said, ‘Wow, what great terrain you have here. This is an awesome place to mountain bike. It’s only an hour-and-a-half from the valley and I’ve never been down here’.

“So all these people provincially who are mountain biking and kayaking, they think we don’t exist.”

Riley concluded that he’s looking forward to working with other trails and open spaces groups and he can be contacted at the Municipality of Digby office in Seabrook.

 

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