September 25, 2013

Councillors skeptical about roadway beside trail

As published in The Erin Advocate

Mayor Lou Maieron’s proposal to bypass the Station Road dam with a new roadway along the Elora-Cataract Trail is facing some major challenges, and scepticism from councillors.

Council received a report on the idea last week, including a letter from John Kinkead, Deputy CAO at Credit Valley Conservation (CVC). He said a new roadway from Trafalgar Road, across a new bridge over the river to join the existing Station Road, would require significant exemptions from current rules about that land, and an Environmental Assessment.

“It’s not our land,” said Councillor John Brennan. “I would rather have some agreement in principle from MNR [Ministry of Natural Resources] saying yes, this is feasible.

“If you’re going to do anything other than a wild-ass guess, you’re going to have to spend some engineering money, only to find out it’s a non-starter because it is totally out of our hands. What I want to see before we spend any money on costing this out, is a clear path forward, and I don’t see that here.”

“There are some obstacles, I understand,” said Maieron, but he noted that there is one other area where the trail runs a short distance with a road. He has been trying to break the linkage between managing both the dam and the road at the existing crossing, and wants to consult further with CVC and the MNR about the possibilities.

“If they find that these hurdles are impassible, then I’ll report back,” said Maeiron.

“I’d like to see it in writing,” said Councillor Barb Tocher.

Kinkead said an alternative route across the West Credit “is not likely to negate the need to also undertake potentially extensive and costly modifications” to the existing Station Road dam.

He noted that the funding agencies and partners who made the trail possible intended it only as recreational greenway link between communities, natural heritage areas and other regional trails. A road would require the CVC Board to amend its trail management plan.

MNR would have to approve a usage that is inconsistent with the “conservation purposes” intended for the land, he said.

“Significant engineering modifications and potential corridor adjustments would be required to permit construction and operation of 2-way vehicular access while also maintaining safe and compatible trail use adjacent to the road,” he said. “These considerations would be compounded at the point of the bridge crossing.”

He pointed out the “general lack of compatibility between vehicular traffic and the established use and enjoyment of adjacent conservation lands, some of which were acquired with the Town's assistance, and with private properties.”