COMMUNICATIONS & PROMOTIONS PROGRAM
In 2002 the Waterfront Regeneration Trust invited its 45 community partners to participate in the collaborative communications and promotion program geared at building public awareness and support of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail and Greenway. A second objective was to attract public and private investment for the expansion, enhancement and promotion of the Trail. The response was very supportive. Partners define priority activities for this program at our semi-annual partner meetings. Regular updates on programs are provided through the monthly Ezine. Highlights from this year’s work are described below.
WATERFRONT TRAIL SIGNAGE
In addition, to ensure that people have access to a hard copy of the maps, the Trail route has become a permanent feature of MapArt’s popular mapping products including the Trail logo and a brief description of the Trail. This will give the Trail exposure in millions of publications that are distributed in thousands of outlets from bookstores to gas stations. Based on the success of our arrangement and with data supplied by the Trust, MapArt will also place the logo of trails connecting to the Waterfront Trail on its maps.
Trailhead signs have been redesigned to reflect suggestions by users
and to advance the Trust’s marketing objectives for the Trail. The
new signs show the Trail’s route between two major destination points
rather than confining the graphic to local municipal boundaries. For example
the Trail in the Niagara Region is shown on two maps—the first from
Niagara-on-the-Lake to Jordan Harbour and the second, from Port Dalhousie,
St. Catharines to Fifty Point Conservation Area in Grimsby.
The new Trailhead signs also feature a chart listing distances in kilometres between major points on the Trail. A map of Lake Ontario communities from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Brockville appears in the concern to provide a provincial and geographical reference.
Research has found that advertisers have about 3 seconds to convey their
message to passers-by. Understanding this, the Waterfront Trail website
address is prominently displayed in the masthead along with the tag line
“along the Canadian Shore of Lake Ontario”. This combined
with the powerful graphics ensures that Trail’s scope and relationship
to Lake Ontario are clearly delivered.
WEB SITE DEVELOPMENT
On November 5, 2004, the Trust launched the newly designed Waterfront Trail website. The site’s design reflects the decision to focus on trail users as a primary audience. With one-click users easily access over 90 full-colour, detailed maps showing the route, trail surface, trail connections, gaps, landmarks, distances and attractions. Maps can be downloaded at no charge and printed in either black and white or colour.
The 740 km Trail route is divided into six weekend get-a-ways based with some modifications on the 2002 Toronto Star’s End to End Tour. Two other itineraries are provided: The Greater Niagara Circle Route and the Seaway Trail.
All thirty-five communities along the Trail are described in detailed community profiles. Profiles list where to stay, what to visit, list of tourism and visitor resources. Over 50 major annual waterfront festivals are listed in each profile. Wherever available, web links are provided.
Over one million people visited the Trail’s website this year during the peak spring/summer season. Visitation statistics have steadily increased since the 2002 Toronto Star End to End Tour.
The Trail is home to major music and cultural festivals, connects hundreds of beautiful parks and remote natural areas, the few remaining wetlands along Lake Ontario. For the first time, there is a website that describes the Trail’s unique 740 km visitor experience and provides people with the necessary information and tools to plan their own trip.
This represents phase one of a major re-invention of the website. Subsequent phases will introduce:
ANNUAL BIKE TRIP AND TORONTO STAR ARTICLE
The Trust’s annual cycling tour serves a number of objectives. It promotes the Waterfront Trail and the emerging regional trail connections to it. It increases the public profile of the Trail and our local partners through excellent media coverage. It provides the Trust with first-hand knowledge of the quality and readiness of the Trail for cycling tourism.
This year from July 22 to 24 inclusive we biked the Greater Niagara
Circle Tour – Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail, Niagara River Recreational
Trail, Friendship Trail and Welland Canal Trail. This series of Trails
connects two Great Lakes (Ontario & Erie) by traveling both the natural
connection (the Niagara River) and the ‘man made’ connection
(the Welland Canal). The Trust has funded a number of projects in communities
that are part of the Greater Niagara Circle Route including Fort Erie,
Port Colborne and Wainfleet, through its project funded by the Canada-Ontario
PARTICIPATION AT THE TORONTO BIKE SHOW
The Trust staffed a booth at this 3-day event; in addition to introducing the trail to new users we were also able to provide updated information to current users. The feedback that we received on the Trail was very positive. 20,000 cycling enthusiasts visited the Show. Our display was well attended and we sold over 140 mapbooks and distributed over 1,000 brochures.
PROMOTING THE TRAIL LOCALLY
At the November 2003 Partners meeting, the Trust unveiled three possible ads promoting the Trail as a vacation destination. The Partners selected the final ad to be used in municipal recreation and tourism brochures to promote the Trail to one of its primary users—the residents of Lake Ontario communities. Approximately one-third of the partners reported to us that they published the ad in brochures and publications that are distributed to every household. These communities were: Burlington, Mississauga, Pickering, Second Marsh Newsletter, Clarington, Cobourg, Apple Route Tourism Map, Quinte West, Belleville, Greater Napanee, Loyalist and Kingston.
The Trust also developed a fall ad concept featuring the website as a vacation planning tool. The ad will run in the Northumberland News (distribution of 40,000) this year and will be made available to partners for fall publications.
Local progress on the Waterfront Trail was also reported in the Lennox and Addington’s Economic Development Report.
We have been creating and publishing our monthly electronic magazine, which highlights Greenway initiatives and activities. The Ezine provides an efficient and effective way to communicate success stories on the waterfront to both our partners and other interested parties. Our subscriber base is approx. 900. Back issues of the Ezine are available on the Trust’s website.
WATERFRONT PARTNERS MEETING – Trail Blazers: What you should know about the impact and income of trails. November 5, 2004
The Trust convened its annual partners meeting on November 5th. Glenn Dobbin, General Manager of Ontario Place generously hosted the meeting and welcomed approximately 40 partners who came to hear about the Trans Canada Trail’s economic impact study. The results of the study make a major contribution to the case for public investment in trails.
Ian Lobb of Steve Bauer Bike Tours provided our partners with a sense of how the Waterfront Trail is already playing a role in cycling tourism. Although located in Niagara, Ian offers a variety of trips along Lake Ontario.
At last year’s partner meeting, representatives from communities east of Brockville expressed an interest in joining the Waterfront Trail. Mike Lalonde of Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism took partners on a tour of the largely off-road trail that exists from Morrisburg to Québec border (90 km). Among the benefits described by the Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism to working with the Trust and joining the Waterfront Trail was the expanded market reach. The Trust is pursuing this opportunity further.
Tim Peterson, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation announced the creation of the Ontario Trails Advisory Committee. Mr. Peterson chairs the committee, which will develop the Ontario Trails Strategy. The Strategy will provide a framework for decision-making and help to guide the orderly and sustainable development and management of Ontario Trails. The Ontario Trails Strategy is part of the Ministry’s ACTIVE 2010 initiative, which is working to increase participation in physical activity and sport. The committee will identify a number of key trail issues and consult with stakeholders and the public to address the issues.
NIAGARA REGION WATERFRONT TRAIL OPENING-OCTOBER 30th
Partners in the Niagara Region celebrated the completion of 10 major projects along the Niagara section of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail on October 30th. Together the projects close a significant gap in the Trail and add a number of enhancements to the waterfront.
To mark the occasion, the Regional Niagara Bicycling Committee and the Niagara Freewheelers Bicycling Touring Club each rode from the opposite ends of the Niagara’s Waterfront Trail, and met at the Historical Museum of Jordan in Jordan Village. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration followed, in which Peter Partington, Chair of the Regional Municipality of Niagara, Bill Hodgson, Mayor of Lincoln, and Vicki Barron, Executive Director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, thanked Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program partners John Maloney, MP for Welland, Tourism Minister Jim Bradley, local municipalities and bicycling organizations for theirleadership and commitment to trail infrastructure.
The Niagara projects are part of Trust’s program to enhance and expand the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail in partnership with the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program. Together, the federal and provincial governments are contributing a total of $9.2 million to fund 53 projects covered by the program. Partner municipalities, conservation authorities and community groups are contributing $23 million for a total investment by all levels of government and community partners of $32 million.
EXTENSION OF THE TRAIL TO QUEBEC BORDER
Representatives from the municipalities east of Brockville attended our 2003 Partners Meeting in Port Hope. After the meeting, they approached the Trust to see how they could have the Trail extended easterly from Brockville to the Quebec border. The interest grew from a casual conversation to a meeting in October of this year in Cornwall, with representatives from the affected municipalities and Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism to share information and discuss next steps. The distance from Brockville east to the Quebec border is approx. 140 kms; and there is an existing trail on 75 km of this total distance. The meeting concluded with an agreement in principle that the Trail would be extended, subject to the approval of the Trust Board and the financial contribution to the Communications and Promotions Program by the local partners. The target for the formal extension of the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail to the Quebec border would be 2006.
At the Velo Québec conference in October, we also had a chance to meet with province of Quebec representatives as well as Velo Québec staff. There is a strong interest from the Québec side to joining up our Trails at the provincial border. From our initial look at the maps of our existing and proposed trails on both sides of the border, this seems to be a reasonable proposition.
We are tentatively planning our 2005 Bike Tour to cover the route from Brockville to Montréal; using this as an opportunity to audit the trails and connections; expand our marketing into Québec; and give the opportunity to Velo Québec to reach the Ontario market.
EXPANDING THE PARTNERSHIP
The Trust is proud to welcome the St. Lawrence Parks Commission as a new member of the Waterfront Trail Partnership. The Commission is responsible for the 39 km Thousand Island Bikeway that runs from Gananoque to Brockville.
The Trust has become a member of the Seaway Trail. (The Seaway Trail follows the American shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.) Our organizations share marketing goals and anticipate many opportunities for joint promotional projects. The Waterfront Trail will be profiled in Seaway Trail’s excellent travel publication, Journey Magazine, which is widely distributed throughout the United States.
Ontario Place is also showing its support for the Trail by distributing trail literature at its information kiosk and installing a trailhead sign at this location. They have also stated their willingness to collaborate on future events.
The Ontario Trails Advisory Committee, the Ontario Tourism Strategy and Active 2010 are all recent initiatives announced by the Provincial government and demonstrate the growing importance of trail infrastructure.
The Trust has participated in consultations respecting these initiatives and is a member of the Ontario Trails Advisory Committee.
The Waterfront Trail and Greenway serve the goals of these programs. In order to ensure that our elected representatives understand the work underway along the waterfront, the Trust has sent letters describing the project to all federal and provincial and municipal representatives. These letters are made available to our partners through the Ezine.
PRESENTATIONS & SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
The Waterfront Trail/Greenway has earned an excellent reputation as a successful example of partnership and design. As a result the Trust is requested to participate in a number of events and conferences to highlight our partners’ achievements and leadership.
The Natural Cities Conference hosted by University of Toronto and the
Velo Québec Tourism & Cycling Workshop, gave the Trust the
opportunity to share the success of the Trail with international audiences.
OTHER TRUST 2004 INITITATIVES AND ACTIVITIES
In addition to Collaborative Communications and Promotion Program, the Trust is involved in a number of specific activities aimed to further our objectives for realizing a regenerated waterfront and greenway.
LAKE ONTARIO WATERFRONT INVESTMENT PROGRAM
The Trust’s application to the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program (COIP) for the Lake Ontario Waterfront Investment Program was approved in 2003. This program triggered a $32 million investment in the waterfront with the provincial and federal governments contribution of $9.2 million leveraging an additional $23 million from local municipalities, conservation authorities and community groups.
The program comprises 53 projects of which just over one-half are now
complete and available for the public’s enjoyment. The remaining
projects will be completed by March 2006 as stipulated by COIP.
COMMENTS ON PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT’S SOURCE PROTECTION REPORT & LEGISLATION
In June of this year, the Government of Ontario was presented with a report called Protecting Ontario’s Drinking Water: Toward a Watershed Based Source Protection Planning. This Report was prepared at the request of the Government by an expert Advisory Panel in response to one of the most important recommendations made by Justice O’Connor in the Walkerton Report. The Trust prepared a letter of support for this report and included this letter in our Ezine. We requested the Ezine readers who supported the recommendations to send in their letters to the Government.
Later in the year, the Government developed a draft of its new Drinking Water Source Protection Act. Twenty-two citizen and environmental groups, coordinated by the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) came together to prepare an analysis and list of recommendations on this new legislation. The Trust was part of this partnership and through a letter to the Government, we advised of our support for the CELA led response.
The importance of watershed based planning is fundamental to the successful realization of the Waterfront Trail and Greenway. Our involvement in this issue dates back to our days as the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront.
The Waterfront Regeneration Trust administers and manages the fund that
supports the important work underway to create Canada’s largest
urban park. PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
To build on this success, the Trust will seek support for the 2005-2008
Communications and Promotions Program from its local partners, the CIBC
and other corporate leaders, and foundations.