Across the Board Part 4: Permissions Director

Old Trail Marker at Hastings Lake

One of the marvels of the Waskahegan Trail was how we were able to get permission from so many private individuals to build trails on their land.

It was a slow start. In the late 60’s, the hardest task was getting out and approaching landowners.

But once Stan Skirrow got involved, everything took off. As he tells it in the Waskahegan Trail Guidebook, “It was found that farm people didn’t get into a dreadful fit when you made a request of them. It was found that for every NO, there are many YESes and that there are many fine chats and cups of coffee. Farm people, after all, are special.”

Stan insisted that all agreements would be verbal. This meant we would always have to earn the privilege of ongoing permission.

Stan also built long term friendships with landowners and their families. He visited them regularly, and even attended their funerals. As a result, their generosity and trust continued over the years as land was divided and sold or passed on to younger generations.

In short, the trail has momentum.

When land is sold and we discover we have new landowners, it’s almost always a positive situation. One landowner told us, “When we bought this property we were thrilled to discover that we were part of the Waskahegan Trail network.”

The Permissions Director works with Trail Maintenance and other volunteers to address landowner concerns and find solutions—such as our recent signage improvements. Sometimes communication starts with us, like when we need to ask for permission to reroute a trail.

Landowners get in touch with us either through our website’s Contact page or by posting a message on our Facebook page. But us contacting them is sometimes more convoluted. We keep records of land descriptions and owner information, but when land changes hands, we don’t always know about it right away. Usually a land title search or a visit is all it takes to discover a new landowner and update our records.

Duties of the Permissions Committee Chair

  • Be a single point of contact for landowners having questions or concerns.
  • Visit landowners—accompanied by another member—as required.
  • Ensure that the records of landowners and site descriptions are up to date.
  • Report to board meetings.

The only requirement is the ability to attend most meetings.

Come for a Visit

Why not visit the next board meeting on November 23? It’s the best way to find out what we’re all about.
If you have any questions about the duties of the Permissions Director, JoAnne or Karen will be happy to talk to you.
Next time, we’ll look at Social Convenor.

Read about other board positions:

Part 3: Hike Coordinator
Part 2: Trail Maintenance Coordinator
Part 1: Membership Secretary

Across the Board Part 3: Hike Coordinator

Organized hiking is funWhen asked for advice to volunteers at the last AGM, Oscar Zawalsky gave us this:

“Find a hike you like and make it your own.”

Several Waskahegan members do exactly that.

Some have multiple favourites. And some like the challenge of scouting and exploring new hikes every season.

Both types make great hike leaders—and that’s good news for the hike coordinator.

The hike coordinator works with the hike leaders to put together the guided hike schedule for the season. Hike leaders contribute by suggesting hikes they want to do. The rest of the schedule is filled in based on past seasons and our collective experiences. (We learned the hard way that A60 to Schnee Hill should be hiked only AFTER the crops are taken off, and not in mid-summer.)

And there are some hikes we always do at certain times, like kicking off the summer season with East Battle River to see the prairie crocuses in bloom.

The hike schedule is useful to more than just members and public who are wondering where we’re hiking on Sunday. It lets the landowners know ahead of time when we will be visiting their trails, and it guides the activities of the Trail Maintenance season.

Duties of the Hike Coordinator

Twice a year

  • Gather a hike committee and organize the hike schedule.
  • Publish and distribute the schedule for the landowners and Trail Maintenance and post the hike events on the website’s calendar.

During the year

  • Be the point of contact for hike leaders and interested public.
  • Provide guidance and orientation to new hike leaders.
  • Receive the hike signup sheets and waivers of non-members and collect statistics.
  • Post the hikes as Meetup events.

At year-end, provide a hike report to the AGM.


  • Availability in the February-March and September-October time frames to organize the schedule.
  • Some experience leading Waskahegan guided hikes.
  • Ability to attend most board meetings

Access to a computer is useful. You can post the hike schedule updates, hike write-ups, and Meetup events—or ask the webmaster or social media coordinator to do this.

Come for a Visit

Why not visit the next board meeting on November 23? It’s the best way to find out what we’re all about.

If you have any questions about the duties of the Hiking Coordinator, JoAnne will be happy to talk to you.

Next time, we’ll look at Permissions Committee.

Across the Board Part 2: Trail Maintenance Coordinator

Look at the calendar on our website and you’ll see that we do mostly just two things–hiking and trail maintenance.

In our brochure you’ll also find trail maintenance and it takes equal space with guided hikes.

It wasn’t always this way.

For decades, Trail Maintenance was a closed shop. The trail was divided up among four crews, who looked after it for the whole of each season. The crews managed their own schedules and brought in volunteers as needed.

That was fine until key crew members started retiring. For a few years, trail maintenance coordination struggled to find a way to keep the system going. Finally, after some “wandering in the wilderness”, the board was thrilled to be joined by Karen Bell and her big-picture way of thinking.

Karen changed our approach to trail maintenance by making it an activity that is open to any person who wants to participate—no commitment required and no person ignored. She also instituted a proper celebration of each work party by treating the volunteers to coffee afterward.

As a result, our work parties attract a large group of volunteers ranging from very new to very experienced. Many people make it a regular part of their week. And in between work parties, volunteers are maintaining mowers, building stiles, and sharpening tools in the comfort of our rented garage/workshop in the Ritchie neighborhood.

The Duties of the Trail Maintenance Coordinator

  • Before the season starts, contribute to the hike schedule and create a work schedule based on the hikes.
  • During the season,
    • Maintain the trail maintenance schedule on the website and keep volunteers informed.
    • Notify landowners as per the Trail Maintenance manual, and liaison as necessary for issues and changes such as re-routes.
    • Coordinate equipment maintenance and purchases with volunteers and get board approval for large purchases.
    • Coordinate work parties: arrange equipment and transportation with volunteers, provide orientation for safety and trail standards, coordinate job assignments, buy everyone coffee at WTA expense afterwards.
    • Work with the Permissions committee on landowner and trail changes.
  • At the end of the season, review the current year’s costs and prepare an estimate for the next year’s Trail Maintenance budget. Sum up the season at the AGM.
  • Report to board meetings


  • To be available for most of the trail maintenance season, April to October.
  • To be able to attend most board meetings.

Come for a Visit

Why not visit the next board meeting on October 12? It’s the best way to find out what we’re all about.

If you have any questions about the duties of the Trail Maintenance Coordinator, Karen will be happy to talk to you.

Next time, we’ll look at Hike Coordinator.