NCC closing vehicle access to Ottawa Greenbelt trails, off-leash dog parks
Ottawa residents won’t be able to access trails, pathways and off-leash dog parks in the Greenbelt by car as of Friday night and until further notice in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the National Capital Commission (NCC) says.
All parking lots at trail heads and off-leash dog parks will be closed at 9 p.m. and local authorities will enforce the parking bans, the NCC — the federal Crown corporation that plans and manages federal lands in the National Capital Region — announced in a news release on Friday.
“We recognize that this decision will affect residents’ enjoyment of the Greenbelt, but we must make every effort to protect employees, contractors and trail users from COVID-19, and ensure compliance with public health directives from all levels of government, particularly the call to avoid all non-essential trips,” the commission said in its release.
The NCC said this temporary closure is “consistent” with its decision earlier this week to temporarily close Gatineau Park and end its winter recreation season in response to the outbreak of the virus.
The Greenbelt is a massive area of publicly-owned, protected green space in the national capital. Its 20,000 hectares include farms, forests and wetlands — most of which is owned by the NCC, according to the commission’s website.
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The commission noted that vehicles won’t be allowed to park on roadways adjacent to Greenbelt trail heads either as part of the temporary closure announced Friday.
In its news release, the NCC encouraged Ottawa residents to “enjoy the outdoors close to home” and to reach them on foot or by bike, instead of driving to an outdoor destination.
“People who live near a trail head or a dog park and can access it locally may still do so, provided they respect public health recommendations, including physical distancing,” the commission said.
NCC working to open multi-use pathways
To help residents more easily access the outdoors while practicing social distancing, the NCC said it’s working to re-open its multi-use pathways in the city “as quickly as possible.”
Crews are clearing ice and snow and residents should check the NCC’s social media platforms for updates about pathway openings.
The commission confirmed it’s not considering closing either the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway or the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway to vehicle traffic at this time but that it will “reassess options for road closures, including Sunday Bikedays, as the situation allows.”
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