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Council votes to move forward with TCT development mostly using public ROW

Posted April 8, 2014

Twelve speakers, New Tecumseth's trails' consultant, the director of parks and recreation, and councillors spent about two hours last night debating the fate of the proposed Trans Canada Trail through town, culminating in a committee vote in favour of using the Town owned abandoned rail corridor. The only deviation initially proposed would be an easement, still to be negotiated, to lessen the impact around WD Potato Ltd property on 10 Sideroad.

(Click here to review the running commentary posted live during last night's discussion - Facebook account required)

WD owner Walter Davidson, reiterated his concerns last night about the trail and its impact on his estimated $100 million operation, adding that he was not issuing any potato grower contracts until the issue was resolved. But the recommendation approved last night also includes a provision that if Mr. Davidson doesn't agree to an easement, that the Town proceed with using the ROW.

"Stop at the 10th Line, and drive your car to the 14th Line, that'll solve everybody's problem," said Mr. Davidson.

For the first time in several years, pro-trail voices turned out to ask councillors to move forward, including several members of previous trail committees, whose starts go back 15 years.

The farmers who spoke last night, also repeated their concerns about trail users, and the impacts they could have on their agricultural operations, including spraying, and irrigation conflicts, "bio-security issues."

Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb, argued that "urban residents do not understand today's farming practices."

In the end, the majority of council were of the same opinion that if the trail doesn't follow the abandoned rail line, it will not be built. The grant funds from the various government levels and Trans Canada Trail, do not fund trail systems along roadways.

"If we don't put it along the ARC, we're not going to have a trail," said mayor Mike MacEachern. "It shouldn't be about politics."

Deputy mayor Rick Milne, agreed, suggesting, "we'll be another 16 years. I'll be long gone."

The decision comes back next Monday night for council ratification. Barring a change in the vote, the Town will shift to preparing the tender, and meet with affected landowners along the line to address their concerns, either with fencing, gates, signage.

New Tecumseth's TCT would total 26 km when completed, of which 18.5 km remains unfinished, one of the largest single missing links in the cross country network. It's estimated to cost $1.5 million to finish, with an annual maintenance cost of approximately $45,000.

There's a 100 ft bridge, 35 ft high over the Nottawasaga River that requires decking repairs and safety railings, the area is also overgrown and requires clearing and grubbing. Another is 3.86 km from 10th Line to Daniele Gate and includes a 104 ft long, and 13 ft high bridge over the Beeton Creek, which needs a new deck and railings installed. And, about 1 km between 10 Sideroad and the 10th Line.

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. Simcoe County Trails representative told councillors last night that they may be able to contribute more funding to help address farmer concerns, and he suggested local development interests should be engaged as well, as sponsors for various sections.

The federal government wants the TCT completed in time for the 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017, while the provincial government has 2015 in mind timed with the Pan Am Games in the GTA.

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