The Howard Watson Trail is about to get its first major expansion.
A new leg linking the trail to Lambton College was green-lighted by Sarnia council last week, based on a proposal from the Bluewater Trails Committee.
Informal pathways already run beside the Bissell-McArthur Drain south of London Road, and one of them will be widened and resurfaced at an estimated cost of $250,000.
Bluewater Trails Chair Tony Barrand said the east-west extension is “good news for the city,” especially Lambton College students already using the shortcut to get to school.
“Many international students walk to school along the old drain line,” Barrand said, adding the extension will also improve green space access for neighboring residents.
A detailed plan will be prepared, including how the trail should best cross Finch Drive and which side of the waterway it will follow.
Barrand said most of the land is public right-of-way because of the drain and adjacent hydro lines.
A segment is owned by a private numbered company but it can’t be developed for residential housing because of easements, he said.
About 80% of the cost will be covered by an Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling grant, with the rest coming from the city and Bluewater Trails.
Barrand said he hopes Lambton College will chip in as well, but Bluewater Trails will raise the extra if needed, he said.
“We’ve fundraised over half a million dollars in the last 10 years.”
The trails committee also has access to funds for trail improvements through Trees Canada and Communities in Bloom, he said.
The Howard Watson Trail, which is part of the Bluewater Trails network, runs for 16 kilometres through the city and as far east as Camlachie.