St. Stephen section of Coastal Link Trail system officially opened

St. Stephen – The cold autumn rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those in attendance on Saturday, Oct. 24, as a good sized crowd braved the elements to celebrate the official opening of the St. Stephen section of the Coastal Link Trail system.

“These trail systems – I’ve only learned this along the way – I’ve learned a tremendous amount of how well they work for everybody,” said St. Stephen Mayor, Allan MacEachern.

MacEachern was joined at the event by Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister, Tammy Scott-Wallace, Coastal Link Trail committee President, Darren Turner, NB Trans Canada Trail Board Director, Eric Gionet, and Saint Croix MLA, Kathy Bockus.

“Not just cyclists and walkers, people with disabilities I see using this trail every day now, that could not get out and enjoy this river. It’s really good to see how the use is really increased,” he added.

MacEachern then reached in his pocket and pulled out a green teddy bear, gifted to him by Loredana Delucchi, a woman from New York City who is part of a Freewalkers group. While out walking, Delucchi found a Canadian penny, and determined it was a sign to walk from New York to Calais, cross the border, and return the penny.

And on New Brunswick Day, Aug. 6, 2018, Delucchi and fellow walkers Ken Kurland and Nancy Joanap did just that – meeting MacEachern on the Ferry Point Bridge.

“She made this bear,” said MacEachern of Delucchi, “with the little knapsack on it, that’s got the penny in it, and a New York subway token, and a letter that I couldn’t read today because I get emotional reading it, but anyway there’s a little letter in it that I’ve saved for two years.

“She walked it for personal reasons. And it had to do with mental health, and dealing with the loss of her husband, and her two friends supported her along the way, and it’s another great story about how these trails work for everybody.”

Saturday’s St. Stephen event was the official ribbon cutting of the inaugural 2 km stretch of what will be a 177 km Coastal Link Trail system. The waterfront trail runs along the St. Croix River, and was upgraded via funding made available by Coastal Link Trail Inc. The overall project received $1 million in funding from the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture in 2019 to begin the endeavour, and received additional funding from Trans Canada Trail for the connection to Canada’s national trail network, the Great Trail of Canada.

When completed, the Coastal Link Trail will connect to the East Coast Greenway trail in the US, and the Great Trail to create the longest linear trail globally. The Coastal Link section will ultimately connect St. Stephen to Saint Andrews, St. George, and will end in Saint John.

“One of the things about the trail is that as we go across the country and we see the trail expand and open, it’s hard to walk on the trail without meeting someone with a smile on their face,” said Gionet. “And that’s what the trail does.”

“It’s doing and encouraging exactly what we wanted it to do,” said MacEachern. “It’s all about health and well-being.”