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Trans Canada Trail

'Compromise trail route' proposed to address WD Potato concerns

Posted April 7, 2014

A review of alternate options for the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) through New Tecumseth to address concerns expressed by farmers along the preferred route recommends a path around WD Potato Ltd that requires an easement from Walter Davidson, utilizes a short section of 10 Sideroad, continues northerly along Walton Group's property, before tying back into the main line just south of the 11th Line.

The alternative route proposals were ordered by councillors last month to further address concerns related to the proximity of trail users to agricultural fields and the effect of agricultural spraying and the health and safety of trail users; roadside parking and the obstruction of farm equipment; safety concerns of trail corridor passing through bison pasture lands; and, impact of trail location on W.D. Potato Limited operations.

The Alternative Route Assessment carried out by Tract Consulting, is on the council agenda tonight, along with the recommendation to use the abandon rail corridor (ARC) "with the deviation" to address the W.D. Potato Limited operation concerns" and proceed with the preparation of the final plans and detailed construction drawings in order to call tenders for construction, "it being noted that a maximum budget of $500,000 was approved by Council at its September 30, 2013 meeting for this TCT Phase."

TCT

It's noted in the TRACT report that farmers along the route have over the last few years expanded their field operations within the road right of way, which as an alternate route, would require the fields to be cut back off the road allowance. The hydro cooridor was also considered, but "holds little visual interest." As well, its use would require Ontario Hydro to reopen agricultural use licenses in place that would scale back the amount of land being farmed, which would lead to a reduction in rental income.

The TRACT review also includes minutes of discussions had with representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Health Canada, PEI's confederation Trail Supervisor, and the OFA, over the issue of agricultural spraying, and its impacts on trail users.

"Spraying is a normal farm practice and must be done in suitable conditions -low wind," according to the report under the heading consultation with Keith Currie, Executive Member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and author of articles on trails in agricultural areas. "He does not feel that this is a serious issue for two reasons: the spray heads are facing down and near the ground, drift is minimized; sprays
are not allowed to leave the property and affect neighbouring property under 'Normal Agricultural Practices.' Secondly, typically pesticides or herbicides used are not so toxic to humans unless their exposure is significant. The one qualifier to this is aerial spraying where the material is blown up into fruit trees for example. The potential for drift is much greater."

Fencing, including along the section where bison farming is taking place, and signage are key elements of managing concerns on the route. Both of which would be at municipal expense.

"By working together with representatives of W.D. Potato and the Walton Group, we feel a suitable
alternative route can be achieved to everyone's satisfaction," according to TRACT. "Should a compromise solution not be achieved, we would recommend completing the trail work within the bounds of the ARC."

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