That's exactly what the people of Mirfield on the Calder & Hebble Navigation have done. Members of the Mirfield Community Partnership have taken it upon themselves to develop a five year plan for their local waterways.
At the heart of the plan is the idea of Mirfield Promenade, a four mile walking route encouraging people to discover the wildlife and heritage on their doorstep. The Promenade will be a focal point for local people, giving them an opportunity to keep fit, get involved in a range of arts projects and explore the history and ecology of their local area.
Hilary Brooke of the Mirfield Community Partnership explains: “This project is all about people, it's all about the local community working together to change their waterways for the better so they can play a more prominent role in daily life.
“We love our waterways here in Mirfield but we recognise that they could be made even better and we understand that we have an active part to play in making that happen. It's amazing how much you can achieve if everyone works together and we can't wait to see the difference on our waterways.”
The group has a whole host of ideas and is currently looking into sources of funding to put their plans into action :
- Creating a community canal island at Battyeford by clearing overgrown areas, planting orchards and wild meadows, putting in some seating and improving access to the water in the form of fishing points and canoe jetties.
- Improving the towpath where possible on both the Calder & Hebble and the River Calder.
- Exploring the possibility of establishing a canoe trail.
- Organising volunteer opportunities for people to work together and help care for their local waterways gaining valuable skills at the same time.
- Support the efforts of community boat operators in getting people out onto the water
- Exploring the potential for building an artificial otter holt near Battyeford Island.
The canal in Mirfield is full of interesting features including grade II listed locks and a former lock keepers cottage. It's also rich in wildlife with kingfishers, herons and oyster catchers often spotted nearby.
The Mirfield Community Partnership is made up of a number of groups including Mirfield Town Council, West Yorkshire Print Workshop and Saint Paul's Church and working alongside organisations like the Trust and Groundwork Leeds. The aim of the partnership is to improve the local environment and offer a variety of cultural and social activities both in the town centre and other areas of Mirfield.