Doug Tarry Jr. of Doug Tarry Homes wants to complete the missing link in St. Thomas’s extensive trail system, and he’s asking business owners and individuals in St. Thomas to help make it happen.
On Nov. 22, at the retirement celebration for Bill Tarry at the CASO Station, On Track St. Thomas formally thanked Doug Tarry Homes for committing $100,000 to the ongoing construction of the Elevated Park. The money is part of an initiative called the Doug Tarry Homes End-to-End Challenge, which has the goal of raising $500,000 to complete the bridge’s remaining railings and decks, from one end to the other. On Track is confident that this can be completed and the entire bridge safely opened to pedestrians by late 2019.
“The opportunities in front of us are amazing.” –Doug Tarry Jr.
Finishing the bridge is not just about providing the city another park to enjoy, it means connecting the trails in St. Thomas. The Michigan Central Railway Bridge is the missing link in the existing and future trails that would make a complete loop around the city. This trail system has exploded in the last four years, going from very few trails in St. Thomas to over 20 kilometres, and according to Doug Tarry Jr. and Erica Arnett of On Track, we are within three or four years of having an uninterrupted loop around the whole city.
A walking trail around St. Thomas would add significant value to community members and visitors alike. The importance of this connectivity, according to Doug Tarry Jr., is “having people come here and realize there’s more available to them as far as hiking, biking, walking, and a healthy lifestyle.”
“This is a community that punches way about its weight as far as community involvement and community building, and this bridge is just another example of that.” –Serge Lavoie
Even more importantly, a completed system could be integrated into the Trans Canada Trail. “We want to see the Trans Canada Trail be reallocated to be down through all of our trail systems that we’ve included in St. Thomas and, of course, across the Elevated Park,” says Tarry. Currently, the Trans Canada Trail runs through St. Thomas instead of looping around it, missing much of the existing trail system.
Doug Tarry Homes’ donation is just the beginning of what they are hoping to raise to complete the project, which means enlisting the help of others in St. Thomas. “If we can get other businesses and people within the city to recognize the importance of this, and help us to get across to the other side, there’s so much opportunity that’s in front of us,” says Tarry. “We encourage everybody to pull out a dollar, a toonie, five bucks – whatever you can to help us get to the other side.”
Matt Janes, Doug Tarry campaign co-chair, says, “We really appreciate Doug Tarry Homes being such a strong partner, and we hope that that kind of enthusiasm gets picked up by other companies and businesses in town too.”
Support doesn’t have to be just financial. According to Erica Arnett, the campaign’s other co-chair, “Businesses can contribute whatever they have at their disposal. It can be cash but there are some in-kind services required that will go a long way to having us open by the end of 2019.”
Trails aside, having the Elevated Park completed would mean a lot for the city of St. Thomas. Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas, says having Canada’s first elevated park gives the city bragging rights. “A community of 40,000 people doing what beforehand only Manhattan had done – I think that’s kind of cool. It shows that this is a community that thinks big and is willing to back outlandish ideas.”
You can donate and keep up with the progress of the Elevated Park on their website. For more information, contact Serge Lavoie, 519-859-7763.
Featured Photo: Grayden Laing | Laing Studios/Establish Media