SPRINGHILL – Anyone who has ever thought of Cumberland County as small and quaint probably never ventured off the beaten path.
The Cobequid Off Highway Vehicle Club hosted a meet and greet over the weekend, inviting members to witness the work of IR Mapping of Amherst and LGS. The two are working with off road enthusiast to map the county’s extensive trail system, breaking the work into all terrain trails, snowmobile and walking trails.
All in all, it’s been five years of work and partnerships, IR Mapping’s Curt Speight said.
“In my world, there’s two avenues with this. The first is getting ambulance and emergency responders to the scene if there’s been an accident and the other is the spinoffs for clubs and organizations to organize runs, fundraisers or even economic spinoffs, like developing new trails or restaurants,” Speight said.
Because of the void the mapping system fills for emergency responders, there’s government interest to expand the pilot project across the province, and using Cumberland County as the launching point helped identify how the model would need to unfold in other counties.
“For us, we had to start somewhere and we had to have buy-in from local organizations,” Speight said. “Cumberland County seemed logical because, first off we’re in Cumberland County, but the population is also small, with about 33,000 people. I thought it would be a breeze… boy, was I wrong.”
There’s a tradition of snowmobile enthusiast cherishing groomed trail systems while all terrain users can have just as much fun on a straightaway as they can in a deep rut of mud. It can make for turf wars and ill feeling when one user’s enthusiasm impacts the expectations of the other. Mutual understanding and building partnerships close to home with the users, Speight said, not only created a better product, but also fostered the conversations they will need to have with other organizations in the future.
To map the trails, members of local off highway clubs and organizations used GPS units when travelling the trails and then sent their data to IR Mapping. LGS’s Trevor Robar turned the work into a near real-time map as possible that will allow club administrators to update trail conditions, add trails, identify obstacles and a wide assortment of other options.
It involves a commitment from the clubs in order for the project to be sustainable, Robar said, but offers the promise of a safe tool for users unlike anything else on the market.
“There is a significant cost to that person who goes out to check a trail condition or map a new trail,” Speight acknowledged. “But that’s why the mapping will be available at no cost to clubs, for prospective fundraising efforts at no cost.”
The trail map is available online right now for a limited time at www.geomapix.com/trails and then will be shut down to update the trails and consider adapting input from the public into the final product.