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Half million earmarked for trail development

Posted September 24, 2013

The unintended consequences of delaying for several years the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) expansion through New Tecumseth is the national organization's desire, along with the federal government, to "close the gap" by 2017, so it's handing out larger sums of money to make it happen.

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.

In his report to council last night on the topic of trails, Ray Osmond, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture (PRC) noted the Town applied for TCT funding but "had not anticipated such a substantial grant" of $250,000, on condition New Tecumseth matches the amount, which councillors approved last night.

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.

TRACT Consulting will be paid about $65,000 to design New Tecumseth's TCT starting with the estimated 13 kilometre stretch between the 8th Line in Beeton and the 14th Line at 20 Sideroad.

The draft plan will then be put out for public comments, but more contentiously, presented during negotiations with landowners and farmers who abut the proposed trail along the Town-owned abandoned rail line. They have to date been successful in fending off trail expansion citing such concerns about potential crop damage, and issues with livestock. One of the properties affected has bisons. Those talks are expected to start anew later this fall.

This phase in pieces includes 8.5 km from 20 Sideroad at the 14th Line to 10 Sideroad, and "is the primary area that has been identified by the farming community to have potential user conflicts." 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, which "an alternate route may have to be determined with the least desired route being the use of the road right of way."

Mr. Osmond told councillors the final piece is approximately five kilometers in length and would run parallel to the South Simcoe Railway line between the 5th Line in Tottenham to the 8th Line in Beeton. He called it the "most challenging area for this trail development."

"Its got huge slopes on both sides in this area. We're going to find ourselves doing some backfilling, and we're going to find ourselves going away from the trail, and we're also going to find ourselves building a huge bridge across the Beeton Creek which really drives the costs up," he said. "So our best estimate at this point is around $500,000 to $600,000 and that's why we're asking in this phase to do some of the planning to get a better idea what that cost would be so we can facilitate requesting funds from the Trans Canada Trail, and anyone else we can find funds from going forward in the future because it is such a challenging piece over that five or six kilometres."

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