FALL RIVER: The Blue Hill Coach Trail in Fall River is a prime example of what support from the Connect2 program can do, so it was no surprise it served as the backdrop as the province announced the application process is now open for the 2017 year.

Minister of Energy Michel Samson, MLA Bill Horne, and Bob Guscott chat following the Connect2 announcement in Fall River. (Healey photo)

MLA Bill Horne was joined by Minister of Energy Michel Samson and Bob Guscott, the chairman of the Shubenacadie Watershed Environmental Protection Society (SWEPS) trail committee on a sunny April 4 afternoon to announce the province would be committing $600,000, pending budget approval, for the program again this year.

Standing on the snow-covered trail adjacent to Lake Thomas Crescent, Samson said the Connect2 program will give more Nova Scotians the opportunity to access to walking and biking paths, ride sharing and other sustainable transportation options.

“It’s very fitting to be able to do this announcement here today,” said Samson. “This is good news for Nova Scotians and Nova Scotia communities. Connect2 is a sustainable transportation program that helps build walking or hiking trails under two kilometres between community hubs.

“Now many more people will be able to take a stroll to their nearest coffee shop or ride in to their community centre.”

Minister of Energy Michel Samson announce the province would be committing $600,000, pending budget approval, for the Connect2 program again this year. The announcement took place on the Blue Hill Road Coach trail in Fall River. (Healey photo)

He said the program also helps N.S. move toward a cleaner energy future, allowing Nova Scotians more options to reduce their carbon footprint.

“The truth is we cannot keep emitting greenhouse gases the way we have in the past,” said Samson. “We must become more efficient in how we use carbon in our economy.”

Samson said since it was created, the province has invested $1.2 million through Connect2, which has helped create about $5.2 million in additional funding to support more than 50 projects.

One of those projects is the Blue Hill Coach trail that connects residents in Fall River Village to the Fall River Road/Blue Hill Road area by foot or on bicycle.

Bob Guscott from SWEPS Trails speaks about how the Blue Hill Coach trail in Fall River benefited from the onnect2 program last year. (Healey photo)

Guscott spoke about the support SWEPS received in making their dream become a reality in what they hope is just the start of bigger things.

“We’re really thrilled to be involved in this trail initiative,” said Guscott. “We’re very pleased with the support of the province and indebted to our MLA (Bill Horne) who’s been here with us along the way as he’s part of our SWEPS group.”

He said they look at the Blue Hill Coach trail as “community infrastructure.”

“Not only does it connect distant parts of Fall River to the community core,” said Guscott, “it also, by way of a multi-use trail, protects a significant historical asset which is the trail itself.

MLA Bill Horne welcomes Energy Minister Michel Samson to the Blue Hill Coach trail for an announcement about Connect2 and sustainable transportation in Nova Scotia on April 4. (Healey photo)

“It also feeds into a much larger community vision that proposes a multi-use trail called the Riverlake Greenway that will connect all of the communities between Dartmouth all the way out to Carrolls Corner, and beyond to the Trans Canada Trail.”

The deadline for Connect2 applications is May 5, and all projects must be finished by March 10, 2018. More information, including the application, can be found at: www.novascotia.ca/sustainabletransportation.