We have had a robust year on the Avon Trail.
Memberships and volunteerism have increased, off-road trail increased, bridges and stiles upgraded, signage improved, a diversity of hikes offered, and new equipment purchased. The website continues to grow, and the Avon Trail Tales Newsletter now resides on the site. Our February Social at the Queen’s Hotel attracted an enthusiastic crowd. We produced a calendar for our landowners. The 4th Annual Wildwood Challenge fundraiser drew over 50 hikers, and in spite of a deficit budget, our finances continued to be healthy. You will read details of these and more in the pages that follow.
The board adopted three goals this year. The first, to increase the Trail’s presence in the ‘East End,’ second, to review our Strategic Plan, and third to revise our printed Trail Guide. The ‘East End Meet and Greet’ held in April at Riversong Bakery, St. Jacobs, attracted more than thirty people, some of whom have become members and volunteers. In May, Geoff Williams led us through a revision of our Strategic Plan, now posted on the website (avontrail.ca/Resources/Governance). This Plan will guide the board in the years ahead. Third, with the invaluable assistance of Jamie Hember, we revised the Avon Trail Guide, including six re-routes, adding eight kilometres to the trail while reducing road walking significantly.
We also launched a free trail ‘app’ on the Ondago platform. Our goal was to reach a younger demographic. We were grateful to the Royal Bank Environmental Impact Grant that assisted with this project. We will monitor this venture to determine how the app impacts the sale of trail guides.
Our request to the Stratford Perth Community Foundation to fund two projects was successful: first, to assist with annual maintenance fees of both the website and the Ondago app, secondly, to assist in the purchase of a new brushcutter for the east end.
The Website and Trail App Maintenance Fee project is supported by a grant from the Smart & Caring Community Fund for the amount of $700.
The Stihl Brushcutter is supported by a grant from the Mansbridge Environment Fund and the Smart & Caring Community Fund for the amount of $550.
We are grateful to the Smart & Caring Fund and the Mansbridge Environment Fund for this support. Both funds are held within the Stratford Perth Community Foundation. We appreciate this vote of confidence in these Avon Trail projects.
We look forward to celebrating the 45th Anniversary year of the Avon Trail in 2020; it will be a year of challenge and change. I have been honoured to serve as president for four years alongside a stellar group of individuals who have made up the board, as well as many other enthusiastic volunteers. I know the club is in good hands going forward.