JOHNSTOWN: With Canada’s 150th birthday only weeks away, this Richmond County community has joined the Bras d’Or Lake portion of the country’s first nationwide trail system.
A Saturday morning ceremony saw the official debut of Johnstown Landing, which provides a stopping and launching point for canoe and kayak users, as well as a small boat launch. The project officially connects Johnstown to the Bras d’Or Lake water route of The Great Trail, a key component of Cape Breton’s stake in the national Trans-Canada Trail (TCT) initiative.
Joining such communities as Marble Mountain, Whycocomagh and Iona as TCT entry points, the Johnstown Landing initiative received a federal funding investment of $7,200 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund, with another $2,200 provided for site improvement and signage by the TCT itself. The ceremony held this past weekend came 10 months after ACOA confirmed a combined $77,750 in investments for four of the five communities involved in the TCT’s water route along the Bras d’Or Lake shoreline.
As she welcomed various local residents, community representatives, trails backers and provincial officials, the chair of the Johnstown Community Development Co-operative (JCDC), Rita Campbell, congratulated the organization’s treasurer, Harold MacIntyre, for his efforts in making Johnstown Landing a reality.
“If it wasn’t for Howard, we wouldn’t be part of this project,” Campbell declared.
“He has been very faithful in attending meetings and writing [applications for] grants and, last year, helping to put up the [interpretive] sign [on the site].”
For his part, MacIntyre saluted officials with the Municipality of the County of Richmond, particularly those involved with the county’s Economic Development and Tourism office, for getting the JCDC involved in a project that has transformed the land that housed the community’s former school building prior to its 2009 demolition.
“When it came time for us to finally have our concept here approved, Richmond County wrote us a solid recommendation letter and continued supporting us all the way along,” MacIntyre enthused.
“I’m extremely happy to see that we’ve actually gotten to this point. Instead of just a gate at the driveway, those of us ‘in the know’ know that we’re here – we’re on the [TCT] Web site, and we have a place and a name and a purpose. So we can just maintain it going forward.”
MacIntyre added that the JCDC did not wish to proceed with such developments as a campground or a recreation vehicle (RV) park on the Johnstown Landing site, in order to preserve its natural beauty and make it a welcoming launch site for those who enjoy being on the water.
“We’re just trying to make it a good place to launch a canoe, a kayak or a small boat,” MacIntyre explained. “We want to keep the character of this neighbourhood close to what it is today.”
Also in attendance Saturday morning were Nova Scotia Trails Federation representative Norma MacLeod and Cape Breton-Richmond MLA-elect Alana Paon. Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner was originally scheduled to appear at the event but was unavailable to attend due to travel and scheduling conflicts.