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'Seriously consider putting a user fee in place' for trailto the editor,
Posted April 8, 2014
Last night I attended a Council meeting because I knew the recommendation to make a walking trail out of the abandoned rail corridor was on the agenda and I wanted to hear both sides.
This is land that I understand the town purchased more than a decade ago. I am not planning to use this trail and I do not own land affected by it but as a taxpayer who sees annual increases on my tax bill I am concerned about the financial impact this project will have in the future.
I understand some funding (only approx $189,000) has been promised by Trans Canada Trails but this has some conditions attached (eg. if it deviates off the rail line they won't pay). I also understand that a budget of up to $500,000 was approved by Council at their Sept 30/13 meeting to "deviate" the trail in order to address just the W.D. Potato Limited operation concerns (the trail path cuts directly through the property of this very busy business).
In addition to this there are many more issues that have been put forward by owners of adjacent land that have yet to be addressed and at what cost? For example is a chain link fence stretching for miles the only solution to keeping people, pets and garbage from straying onto private property? If so who pays? Who maintains this trail once it's up and running? And at what cost? Who is liable for damages or injury on this trail? And who pays the insurance premium?
I also heard at the meeting that occasionally people come up from the city and use the Trans Canada Trail to camp overnight on. Personally this shocked me but it also makes me wonder if we are also to supply washroom facilities on this trail?
If you read the article in Madhunt posted Apr 7th titled "Compromise trail route proposed to address WD Potato concerns" you will see that according to the study done by Tract Consulting we would be on the hook for millions. This township is already deep in debt so how can we afford any version of this project? Is going for a walk really worth it?
For what it's worth if this goes through, and I'm sure it will, I suggest council seriously consider putting a user fee in place, with possibly a larger amount for "non- residents." With the exception of some parks and athletic fields there isn't anything we use that we expect to use for free.
Over the years I have spent hundreds of dollars on trail passes for snow mobiles and ATVs in the Haliburton and Parry Sound areas and thought nothing of it and I will buy an ATV seasons pass again this year.
I have noticed on the signs on the Parry Sound trails that there is also a fee for horseback riding, motor bikes and bicycles, so why shouldn't people pay to use a walking trail? This would only be a drop in the bucket but the full burden of the expense shouldn't be put on the taxpayer who doesn't use the trail and never wanted it in the first place.