After years of development and volunteered time, a non-profit company has finally been established by active community members in aid of Joburg’s greenbelts, specifically along the Braamfontein Spruit.
Jozi Trails will manage the development and maintenance of recreational trails along the spruit. It was launched on 14 March at the Delta Environmental Centre in Delta Park.
The pilot project will cover Delta Park, Emmarentia and all the trails connecting them. In time, it will expand to cover some 37kms from Albert’s Farm to the N1 in Fourways.
Speaking at the launch, project head Albert Van Urk laid out the plans for Jozi Trails, which include trail maintenance to prevent environmental degradation, improved security along the spruit, installation of signage, fundraising and sponsorship.
“What we do will be properly designed and well maintained and it must be able to accommodate multiple user groups. We want to create a resource for the people of Johannesburg that will change the way people view the city,” said Van Urk.
Jozi Trails is working closely with Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) and is in the process of applying for the required environmental and water use licenses, which will then allow Jozi Trails to design and build better, environmentally sensitive trails.
Louise Gordon, executive manager for business development and stakeholder management at City Parks, said they do not specialise in trail building or maintenance, since there are international standards to adhere to.
Jozi Trails, however, does specialise in trail building and contributes this expertise as an organisation to all trail runners, mountain bike cyclists and dog walkers using the Braamfontein Spruit, she said.
“Jozi Trails responded to a process which JCPZ advertises – we advertise for investment through a call for proposals that are fully funded. The process is open to anybody who wants to apply,” said Gordon and added that what makes Jozi Trails unique from other community initiatives is its specialisation in trail building, Gordon said.
“This organisation will not do normal maintenance of open spaces but will focus on trail building to combat further erosion, promote the safety of trail users, assist with international signage to guide users and ensure that it is fully compliant with environmental legislation where required.”
Ward 117 councillor, Tim Truluck, is eager for the project to kick off. The initiative has been welcomed with open arms by residents with occasional concerns about changing the use of Delta Park, which will not happen, he said.
Instead, Jozi Trails is looking at better ways to use these parks. Truluck said this blueprint can be rolled out to every park across the city.
Van Urk said this initiative is working because people are ready for a solution. He said problems faced in parks have been broken down to a simple solution, which led to the creation of Jozi Trails.
Security company 24/7 Security Services’ managing director, David de Lima, announced that his company has sponsored four public safety ambassadors to patrol the Jozi Trails pilot area on bicycles from 6am to 6pm on weekends.
They will also be able to call for assistance in case of an incident or activate Netcare 911 for medical emergencies.
Residents can follow Jozi Trails on Facebook and on Twitter @JoziTrails