Council set to ratify TCT decision tonight, MDS not a factor
Posted April 14,
Barring a change in voting intentions from last Monday night, New
Tecumseth councillors are expected to confirm the use of the Town-owned
abandoned rail corridor (ARC) as the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) route,
Phase 2, between the 9th and 14th Line. A component of that includes
reaching an easement agreement with WD Potato Ltd that deviates around
the driveway portion of Walter Davidson's property at the 10th Line,
before linking back to the ARC, approximately 700 metres north.
Additional information on tonight's agenda includes Town solicitor Jay
Feehely's interpetation of the Minimum Distance Separation (MDS)
requirement in New Tecumseth's zoning bylaw as it relates to
agricultural uses. The MDS is cited by farmers along the route as one
of their concerns.
Mr. Feehely's view, dated April 9th, suggests the MDS at its strictest
wording, relates to new development, that includes buildings and
"In my opinion, the use of an existing transportation corridor would
not be considered 'proposed development' in either a planning or legal
context," he wrote. "If such a restrictive interpretation was applied,
it would also potentially prevent the construction of a trail even
along a municipal right-of-way. As has been pointed out, using the
municipal right-of-way would require the construction of the trail even
closer to existing farmland and the same potential issues would apply.
However, I am not aware of any case where the use of municipal lands
for a right of passage would be considered 'development.' to which MDS
Mr. Feehely also tackles the MDS as it relates to whether the trail
would restrict the construction or expansion of a livestock facility.
"The Formula specifically uses the wording 'reasonably expected to be
impacted,'" according to the Town solicitor. "There is no question that
the CN Rail Corridor has existed for a long period of time. The
previous usage of it being a transportation corridor for trains is
hardly much different than it being a transportation corridor for
pedestrians. The existence of the corridor would be a factor in any MDS
calculation. However, it is again my opinion that the use of the
corridor as a trail would not be interpreted as being "development"
that would be impacted. ... In conclusion, it is my opinion that the MDS
Guidelines as incorporated in the
Town's Zoning By-Law would not prevent the development of a trail
system along the CN
corridor. As to future restrictions on the establishment or expansion
of livestock facilities,
the existence of the corridor is a fact. However, in my opinion, the
change from rail use to
pedestrian use would not be material in the MDS Two calculation."
If as expected council ratify's last week decision in committee, the
next step will be the design and planning to put the project out for
tender. TCT has provided a grant of $250,000, and the Town will draw
$220,000 from the PRC development charges reserves, and $30,000 is
provided by Simcoe County, to make up the municipal portion of Phase 2.