Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A walk, run, or ride across York Region will be a reality as plans for the South York Greenway trail come into focus.
Once completed, the trail will be over 50 kilometres long and extend from west Vaughan, through Richmond Hill, to east Markham. The route will be in the vicinity of the 407 Hydro corridor and will become a significant component of York Region’s active transportation network.
It will offer an active transportation connection for recreational and commuter purposes and accommodate cyclists, pedestrians, and micro-mobility (e-bike, electric scooter, and electric skateboard) users.
According to John Kazilis, manager of transportation development planning for York Region, the project “leverages existing infrastructure as much as possible” to utilize and incorporate existing trail systems. In addition to cost savings, the use of established trails broadens access and usability.
The exact timeline for completion is yet to be determined. Kazilis explains that given the extensive length of the trail, its construction will occur in sections. Each will be prioritized and developed at different times.
The first step is the detailed design of each segment; once completed, construction can begin. “Detailed design can take one to two years per segment to complete and an additional one to two years for construction of each segment,” he explains.
At a public consultation last April that welcomed input from the community and answered questions about the project, funding availability through the region’s annual budget process was cited as another factor that will determine the pace of the project.
Kazilis confirms York Region council has approved three priority sections to move into the detailed design phase, which will begin this summer.
Two of the three priority sections are in the City of Markham. One runs along the south side of Highway 407, from the Rouge Valley Trails to Rouge National Urban Park. Another links the north side of Highway 407, from the Rouge Valley Trails to Rouge National Urban Park. The third section is in the City of Vaughan and will connect the future Martin Grove Cycle Tracks through the Vaughan Sports Grove Park to the future Weston Road cycling facilities. Once complete, this segment will link the Humber Valley Trail to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
Visit https://www.york.ca/newsroom/campaigns-projects/help-us-plan-new-south-york-greenway for information.
Photo: The South York Greenway trail will extend 50 kilometres from Vaughan to Markham (Photo courtesy of York Region).