Fitness advocates urge NCC to safely open trails, parkways, Gatineau Park

By Kelly Egan, Ottawa Citizen, April 29, 2020

A group of high-profile fitness advocates is calling on the National Capital Commission to safely open its huge inventory of parks, trails and parkways to thousands of restless residents house-bound by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fronted by four-time Olympian Sue Holloway, the exercise enthusiasts are going one step further: they’re offering to draft a plan on how the NCC can open its vast green spaces, possibly with the help of volunteers connected to trail, outdoor and bicycle associations throughout the capital.

“People need this,” Holloway said Tuesday. “We need it for our health and well-being. It can be done safely.”

The NCC has closed its recreational jewel, Gatineau Park, denying access to 183 kilometres of hiking trails spread throughout its 36,000 hectares of forest, lakes, mountains and meadows. It has also shuttered its Greenbelt trails and parking lots.

On a trial basis, it has opened a section of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (until May 10) to pedestrians and cyclists only, so residents in the densely-populated neighbourhood between Laurier Avenue and Fifth Avenue have room to safely exercise during the day.

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