The Lily Creek Boardwalk officially reopened Sept. 12, once again providing the community access to the wetlands of Lily and Nephawin Creeks.
In May 2011, the boardwalk was closed to public use for an undetermined period of time while a structural review was conducted by the city. The boardwalk was originally constructed by Science North more than 20 years ago on lands leased from the former City of Sudbury. Last March, the lease came to an end and Science North offered that the funds necessary to dismantle the boardwalk, as stated in the agreement with the city, be instead used to refurbish and renew it.
"Between Rainbow Routes, the City, and Science North, we decided to leave it in and fix up part of it," said Deb McIntosh, executive director, Rainbow Routes Association.
"It's something really cool about living in Sudbury that right in the middle of the city, we have this wetland that you can access and get away," she added.
As part of the renovations, which were completed by workers hired through Employment Ontario, 50 metres of the boardwalk were removed, the remainder was refurbished and a new 30-metre arm was created, to connect the trail to the James Jerome Sports Complex.
While the route is now slightly shorter — it's 350 metres in total — "the big thing is that the trail actually leads somewhere now," said Samantha Baulch, Rainbow Routes president. "It was a dead end before.
"It is envisioned that football and soccer spectators will take advantage of the boardwalk for a stroll into this 'zen space' during time outs," she added.
Mayor Marianne Matichuk said the Lily Creek Boardwalk is "a unique attraction in the city."
"Visitors to the city are often surprised with this large gem of natural heritage right in the centre of our community, and for good reason," she said. "The boardwalk is one of many showcases of our ongoing local regreening efforts."
She also said that because Rainbow Routes took the initiative to fix up the trail, it "saved local taxpayers more than $200,000 in the process."
In order to thrive, Greater Sudbury needs healthy people, a healthy environment and a healthy economy, a Rainbow Routes press release stated. Rainbow Routes firmly believes that infrastructure, such as the Lily Creek Boardwalk, contribute greatly to that triple bottom line by promoting active living, reducing motor vehicle use and providing another tourism asset.
"Science North is pleased to have been able to participate in the rehabilitation of the Lily Creek Boardwalk," said Guy Labine, CEO of Science North. ""The repairs and extension that now ties the boardwalk to the James Jerome Sports Complex will allow even more families and individuals the opportunity to explore the wetland and discover a new walking route in Sudbury's South End."
For more information about the Rainbow Routes trails, visit rainbowroutes.com.