ERCA To Consider Horseback Riding On Greenway

The Essex Region Conservation Authority is looking for public input when it comes to horseback riding on the Cypher Systems Group Greenway.

ERCA Vice Chair, Irek Kusmierczyk says local equestrian groups have been asking to use the trail.

Since 2000, horses have been allowed on the Chrysler Canada Greenway, but that only makes up about 10% of the roughly 70-kilometre trail system.

ERCA administration had recommended spending $25,000 on a consultant to look into the issue, but the authority's board of directors opted for a public consultation meeting instead.

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The official opening of the Cypher Systems Group Greenway. April 27, 2017 (Photo by Teresinha Medeiros)

Kusmierczyk says more research needs to be done. "Just to be able to hear from the users that currently use it and also, at the same time, we just want to get some information back in terms of what is the cost? Some of the maintenance concerns that we may have. What are some best practices in other jurisdictions, municipalities that have permitted horse riding on their trails? Just so we get a fuller picture." 

"Letting horses on the trail presents some unique challenges," says Kusmierczyk. "You see lots of folks using it for cycling, for walking, for running and the Board of Directors of ERCA simply had some concerns in terms of the cost of maintenance. There's questions of also, in terms of, the interaction between a large animal like a horse and also bike riders."

Kusmierczyk says the Cypher Systems section of the trail may not be as "horse friendly" as other trail systems. "The Cypher Systems Greenway is actually six feet narrower than the Chrysler Greenway, which permits horses on part of its trail. So there's concerns about interaction between a horse and the users as well. So we're looking for some information to come back, a report to come back with some of that information."

The public consultation meeting will be scheduled at a later date.