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Heavy winter rains cause $250,000 in damage to Manuels River trails

By Patrick Newhook/February 10, 2022

Flooding of the trails along the banks of the Manuels Rivers has caused the foundation which oversees the paths to close most of them as it looks for money to fix the damages.

Janet Rumsey, the executive director of the Manuels River Centre, said the last couple of weeks has seen an unprecedented level of water in the river making the trails unsafe for public use.

“The water has hit a record high, anybody I’ve talked to who’s been involved in the organization or has been around since they started developing the trails will say they’ve never seen this level of water here or flooding on the trails,” said Rumsey.

According to Rumsey, while the base infrastructure remains okay, there is damage in places the price of repairs is expected to be steep. Manuels River manages some 18,000 ft of trail which costs $2.75 per foot a year in maintenance costs.

The foundation has chosen to officially close the trails due to safety issues. Only Gallagher Walk is not affected due to its elevation.

“When the assessments were done over the last week or so, we’ve had it broken down pretty much into six different sections that are going to have to be restored or upgraded to mitigate future damage and the price tag now is going to have to be a quarter of a million dollars,” said Rumsey. “The only thing that’s fortunate is that the base is solid and we didn’t lose any bridges. But the top levels of our trails were completely wiped out in so many sections – not every single section, but it will be like so many metres (of damage) and then it’s okay, and then another so many metres (of damage).”

The trails won’t reopen until the Grand Concourse Authority deems them safe. The Manuels River foundation is looking for money to make the repairs. The Covid restrictions and closures of the past couple of months have affected the finances.

“Even in normal times, we would not be able to come up with $250,000 dollars to repair this, but we have even less revenue flowing through because we haven’t been active,” Rumsey said. “We haven’t had our regular December – January going into February revenue. We don’t have our normal revenue and it hasn’t been normal for the last two years because of COVID.”

Rumsey allowed the closure of the trails will affect many people as they are heavily used.

“I think its going to have a huge impact because there’s so many people in our community and people who come from outside our community (who use them),” Rumsey said. “Our parking lot is full a lot of the time, not because people are in the center, but because people are here walking our trails. People use the trails to support their mental health and their physical health. It’s definitely going to have a huge impact. And I can’t tell you when they will be reopened. We’re asking people to stay off them, but we are seeing people on them. They’re not safe and we have signs being printed to be put out there.”

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