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New Recreational Trail on the Wakefield Train Corridor?
By:     (2014/05/30)

A fairly hot topic in Chelsea these days has been the suggestion that the train corridor that was previously used by the Wakefield Steam Train be turned into a year round multi-use recreational path. In recent years, during the winter months, a large portion of the corridor has been groomed for cross-country skiing and other winter activities by Lafleur de la Capitale, with the support of a number of other local sponsors and private donors. This initiative and has enjoyed major success and it is clearly a popular winter facility. More information about the winter community trail initiative can be found at the Chelsea Trails website:


A petition created by Chelsea resident Tammy Scott in support of turning the rail corridor into a year-round multi-use recreational path has been gathering considerable support. It is available here:

www.change.org/gatineaubikepath (English)

www.change.org/pistegatineau (French)

The steam train has not been operational recently because of a series of problems with the tracks, mainly caused by landslides. Recent local news coverage suggests that an MTQ study (not yet released) points to a cost of 50 million dollars to properly repair and stabilize the tracks.The success and popularity of the winter trail along this corridor, combined with the possibility that running the steam train may no longer be possible, has led many to suggest that the corridor be turned into a multi-use path recreational path for year-round use. Arguments in favour of this approach include that fact that it would provide a safe and appealing facility for travelling by bike or on foot between destinations from the edge of Gatineau all the way to Wakefield. Current conditions on considerable stretches of both Highway 105 and River Road (the normal roads to use along this stretch for cyclists), are certainly unfavourable for recreational use.

Generally, those who have argued against the recreational trail have suggested that getting the steam train running again should take priority (and that the costs associated with doing so are not necessarily as high as quoted by the MTQ study), that the traffic on the path will be a nuisance to local residents, and that the maintenance of the recreational path will be too expensive. In addition, some suggest that this debate need not necessairily be “either/or”, and that a recreational trail could be built alongside the train tracks.

Some local news coverage of the issue is available here:


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