In late 2016, the Region of Waterloo and City of Waterloo began working together to realign the Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) with existing trail networks, specifically to better connect our urban and rural trail system between St. Jacob’s Farmers Market in Woolwich Township and the Research & Technology Park in Waterloo. The current Great Trail route in north Waterloo combines on and off-road routes that generally follow Westmount and Benjamin Roads. The improved alignment is a more direct connection, generally following the ION route and Waterloo Spur Line. The improved alignment is identified in the Regional Cycling Master Plan and City of Waterloo Transportation Master Plan (2011). The trail will connect people to the ION system, Waterloo Central Railway and the market area, and will benefit residents, commuters and tourists using active transportation modes of travel.
The project has been broken out into two distinct portions:
Stage 1: connecting Farmers Market Road and Northfield Drive. This is a Region of Waterloo project. This part of the trail is within the region-owned railway corridor between Farmers Market Road and Northfield Drive, connecting directly to Northfield ION Station at the existing signalized crossing. Working in collaboration with the City of Waterloo and the Township of Woolwich, the region consulted with citizens, business owners and other local stakeholders. In response to considerable public feedback and requests, the trail will be illuminated and maintained year-round. Construction of Stage 1 was approved for funding through the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan, and approved by regional council in June 2020 and construction is expected to begin in 2021.
Stage 2: connecting Northfield Drive (Northfield ION Station) to Research and Technology Park. This is the current project the city is working on, with the planned construction of a multi-use trail along Parkside Drive to extend the Farmer's Market Trail from Northfield Drive to Research and Technology ION Station and the existing Laurel Trail. Once complete, Stages 1 and 2 of the Market Trail will serve as the realigned Trans-Canada (“Great Trail”) route to better connect transit and key destinations within our rural and urban communities.