by Frieda Baldwin, President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc.
I would like to share with the members of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. the highlights of today’s Annual General Meeting and Board of Directors meetings:
Stan Muldoon of the Pine Ridge club was awarded the 2022 Volunteer of the Year award for his past involvement on the Executive of the GHTA, as Pine Ridge club President, and for chairing a number of past and current committees. Thankyou Stan!
The Wilderness Club was awarded the 2022 Trail Maintenance award for the completion of the Montgomery Bridge project in the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands…. a project that has been difficult and long in the making… Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this project!
(Honourable mention in Trail Maintenance went to the Midland Club for the reroute and additional loops to the Tiny section in the Tiny Marsh).
No-Man Made Structures policy
In the past, in compliance with our “Minimal Impact” trail maintenance standard we were not allowed to build any man-made structures, such as bridges, boardwalks, etc. (other than styles over fences). We have revisited this policy, and with input from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, decided that it is better for the environment (and for our hikers) to allow man-made structures, provided they are approved by the landowner/agency on whose property the trail is located.
Effective today, any new enrolment in “hiking related” new training courses (Certified Hike Leader, Wilderness Hike Leader, First Aid, Chainsaw Operation, etc.) will be reimbursed at 50% (not 75% as before) upon completion of the course, with the other 50% being reimbursed once the individual volunteer provides his/her newly learned skills on 3 outings/events. This change is made for budgeting reasons, but also as we have experienced some investment in training, and then some individuals not “showing up for work”.
Note: I also wanted to thank all members who have recently taken the Certified Hike Leader (graduation is expected to be next weekend) and First Aid courses. Their reimbursement will still be at the 75% + /25% ratio.
We have re-affirmed our “No Dogs on Group Outings” policy.
The GHTA is following provincial Covid guidelines and as such no longer requires “full vaccination” status of hike participants. Clubs are expected to follow these guidelines, however, individual hike leaders do have the option to request that participants are vaccinated, provided this is clearly stated in the hike or outing details prior to the event.
However, we need to remain vigilant and therefore social distancing is still recommended, such as mask wearing if within 2 meters, or when carpooling.
Elections and Appointments
We are delighted that Steve Pogue (member of the Wilderness Club and Barrie resident) has agreed to take on the Secretary position, following Carol Strickland‘s retirement (she will however continue as President of the Orillia club). Steve comes with a wealth of previous board, policy, by-law experience. Welcome Steve!
Simone Latham is staying on as Treasurer, and I as President of the Association. Unfortunately, we are still looking to fill the position of Vice President.
We were also delighted that we were able to find a replacement for John Sloan, as Trail/Landowner Relations Director (John will stay on the board as a Barrie club rep). However, as this job has mushroomed in the last few years, we felt it necessary to split the role into 3 separate functions:
– Neil Runnalls agreed to take on the Trail/Landowner Relations position. This position is also a member of the Executive team. Neil will be assisted by:
– Steve Broomfield as Mapping Coordinator
– Dani Shaw as Signage Coordinator
Thank you to all who have stepped up to these positions, as well as any of you who are volunteering for any other roles at the club and board level.
Happy to report that our finances are in very good shape, and we have a healthy balance in our bank account. This is mostly due to:
– funds previously set aside to produce a new set of guidebooks (We are no longer producing and inventorying/shipping guidebooks, now that the Trail Guide is downloadable and maps are continually updated as needed)
– we have seen more member donations since we launched the on-line membership renewal process
– we received a $4,500 grant from the County of Simcoe for our mapping projects
We received a very interesting report from the Indigenous Engagement Committee, and expect to hear more from them by the fall Board meeting.
The Risk Management Committee has developed:
– new Difficulty Rating for hike descriptions (based on Hike Ontario’s difficulty ratings)
– new Trail Maintenance/Audit report (to be done yearly)
– updated Trail Maintenance Guidelines to reflect the revised No Man-made Structures policy
and they are still working on an update to our Risk Management Protocol. More on this to follow in the coming weeks.
The Mapping Committee successfully launched the new Trail Guide, which consists of downloadable and printable maps and trail descriptions, which complement the Ondago mobile device app. The new Trail Guide has been well received and can be found on our website under The Trail / Trail Sections with Maps. The maps will be updated on an as needed basis, so hikers are encouraged to verify the latest issue of the map (the issue date is at the bottom right corner of the new maps) but also verify that there have not been any recent Trail Changes (also posted on the website).
Carol Strickland is inviting clubs to send in orders for logoed Ganaraska clothing (Sport shirts, caps, toques, jackets, and neck warmers). This order process will rely on each participating club having their own Order Administrator whowill collect the order details (preferably on a spreadsheet supplied by Carol Strickland) and the payments, send these to Carol, who will then further coordinate with the supplier.
She will be sending out a “catalogue” to interested club presidents shortly.
100 Hikes in 2022
At the beginning of the year, we announced the #ghta100hikesin2022 Challenge on our Ganaraska Hiking Trail Facebook Group. The initial intention was to encourage physical but also mental health while hiking in nature. Individuals are encouraged to post which hike number they are at, the location of the hike and at least 1 scenery photo. The hike has to be at least 1 hour in duration. Achieving this goal of 100 hikes in 1 year is certainly do-able as several of the participants in this challenge are already over half of their goal, and it is only end of April. We are therefore developing a “100 Hikes in 1 Year badge” which will be made available via the Merchandise Order form on our website. Details to follow. Meanwhile start hiking and post your hikes on https://www.facebook.com/groups/343500412799685 and include the hashtag #ghta100hikesin2022.