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 ERCA votes to keep horses off greenway, for now

by Kyle Reid

After reviewing survey responses, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) decided to hold off on allowing horses on the Cypher Systems Greenway trail. The decision was made during last Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting.

The conservation authority, however, will work to address challenges to hopefully allow horses to the trail in the future.

In July, after equestrians expressed interest in having horses permitted on the greenway trail, ERCA launched a survey for feedback about expanding the sections of trail upon which horses are permitted. Over 850 individuals responded to the survey.

The Cypher Systems Greenway trail, which runs some 26 kilometres between Essex and Amherstburg, does not currently permit horses, but equestrian use is permitted on sections of the ERCA Chrysler Canada Greenway. Some riders wanted to see horse access on both greenways.

Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services, said that while survey responses were favourable to changing the rule, ERCA’s Board of Directors ultimately decided to put a hold on allowing horses on the greenway.

The main reason, Money said, is a lack of proper infrastructure, namely parking lots to accommodate horse trailers, which riders need to use to transport their horses to areas with greenway access.

“We don’t have parking for those big trucks and trailers right now,” Money noted. “We don’t want to cause a safety problem by them parking on the road or creating a hazard that way. Until we have those facilities in place, it was deemed appropriate that we hold off.”

Money said ERCA isn’t ruling out the idea in the future, however, as the Conservation Authority will work to raise funds to add the necessary infrastructure, which will make the area safe for equestrian access. But, it could be quite costly and the group will need some help.

“It’s a very expensive to build a parking lot to that size and magnitude, so we’re seeking those corporate sponsorships through our foundation in order to build those facilities,” Money said.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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