The dream of an elevated park soaring over the Kettle Creek valley is one step closer
with the announcement that economic development group On Track St. Thomas has
formally purchased the 83 year old structure and some four kilometers of associated rail
lands. The transaction was completed June 17.
The not for profit group announced its plans to purchase the bridge last September with
the aim of developing it into Canada’s first elevated park. On Track undertook intensive
planning and fundraising over the past 10 months to achieve its initial goal of acquiring
and preserving the structure. Future phases include stabilization and short term
maintenance issues as well as the organizing of an international design competition to
attract the best ideas for a unique elevated park attraction.
“Even though there’s an incredible amount of hard work ahead of us, this is a very
important achievement for On Track, the city of St. Thomas and for Elgin County,” states
Matt Janes, president of the group. “Thanks to our partners and Founders group, we have
taken the first big step towards creating a world-class attraction for our region.”
In addition to the bridge structure and the land it sits on, the group has secured some four
kilometres of abandoned rail corridor stretching from King Street in west end St. Thomas
to Lyle Road in Southwold Township. On Track intends to develop this corridorinto a
walking/biking trail with links to the Trans Canada Trail.
Over the next few months, On Track will continue its fundraising efforts with a view to
achieving the full $250,000 target set at the beginning of the campaign. A special fund
has been created within the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation which allows all
donations to receive a charitable tax receipt.
Complete information about On Track, the bridge and the fundraising campaign can be
found at the group’s website www.OnTrackStThomas.ca.