VIA Rail and the Prescott-Russell Recreational Trail Corporation (PRRTC) announced November 9 that ownership of the land that the PR Trail sits on will be transferred to the community. The corporation will own every part of the trail, from the infrastructure to the rail bed to the land itself, ensuring that the trail will remain a part of the Prescott-Russell region’s recreational future.
“This agreement will turn a piece of railway heritage into a thriving green space for locals and for outdoor enthusiasts from everywhere,” stated Dominique Lemay, VIA Rail chief operating officer. “The recreational trail brings invaluable environmental and social benefits to the many communities along it. With the agreement VIA Rail reconfirms its commitment to community sustainability in Canada.”
The recreational trail has been around since 2006, when the defunct railway route was turned into a pathway for hikers and cyclists during the spring, summer and autumn seasons, and for snowmobilers during the winter. The trail stretches across the Prescott-Russell region through East Hawkesbury, Champlain, and Alfred-Plantagenet townships, The Nation Municipality, and the City of Clarence-Rockland.
The United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) had a long-standing lease agreement with VIA Rail for use of the former rail bed as a recreational trail. The UCPR has been negotiating with VIA Rail for several years for ownership transfer of the rail bed and its right-of-way.