Tourism in the Pontiac: THINK BIG

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Added: Thu, 10/25/2018 - 11:19am
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Darlene Pashak
Éditorialiste Invitée
Guest Editorialist

Recently, I embarked on a three-day adventure with a friend with the goal of walking the length of the PPJ, 92 km.
In preparation, we consulted the MRC website and PPJ cycling maps to plan our accommodation and dining stops. Thankfully, we are familiar enough with the area to navigate the tools available to us, but they still contained insufficient information and we relied on internet maps to fill in the gaps. That begs the question, how would a tourist, unfamiliar with the area, navigate such a trip?
Try searching 'walking or cycling trails near me'. In my location, the PPJ did not appear in the search results. Internet searches are a popular way to plan trips, and people will move on to something else if it is too difficult to find information, or if it is inaccurate.
The online map on the MRC Pontiac website is a PDF version of the printed map we consulted; it didn't seem to be to scale and information is outdated. For example, Domaine de l’O has not operated as a campsite for a few years, but is still listed under accommodation. There's a section of the trail with a detour, but it's not mentioned anywhere online. As a PDF, the map isn't interactive like others, where you can choose the length and location of your walk, or see services for each segment with a click of the mouse. It's time to update the PPJ map: make it interactive and update it regularly.
One accommodation spot was conveniently located a block from the PPJ, but the others required that we walk most of the 34 km on country roads and the highway. One of the attractions of the PPJ is the flat elevation, which wasn't the case for this deviation. How many people will re-route that far when other trails are available with all the amenities? (Note: all accommodation and food services en route were excellent!)
The path is very well suited to cyclists, with rest stops and services at convenient distances from each other. Each rest stop had a clean bathroom with toilet paper,
picnic tables, garbage bins and benches. Walking trails in Europe and around the world are very popular and attracting thousands of tourists. The PPJ could be a Canadian version of those trails if more frequent bathrooms, food and accommodation services were available.
The MRC could also work toward linking up with The Great Trail (previously known as the Trans Canada Trail). The exposure, use of the interactive map function and linkage from Ottawa would serve our area well.
Unfortunately, the trail seems underused: in the course of three beautiful days we met two pedestrians and a cyclist. Let’s think big and make the PPJ Cycloparc, and the Pontiac, a world class attraction!