Neighbours concerned about possible loss of trail

A pair of Saint Andrews residents say they're concerned about losing a walking trail after Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre has put out a request for expression of interest for possible development on its Two Meadows property.

Elan Chandler's parents own a property near the 12-acre Two Meadows property off of Joe's Point Road. They can walk through the woods towards the Algonquin golf course from their backyard. In fact, Chandler's father has walked the Two Meadows trail for more than 45 years.

In 1966, Sunbury Shores bought the 12 acres of land, and while there were initial plans to build there, the property over the years has been used as a nature preserve and home of a trail, according to the request for expression of interest document issued on Oct. 26.

Sunbury Shores recently issued the call for proposals as it indicated it doesn't have the funds to develop this property and are looking for a partner or developer who can help the organization put this property to use by building on it.

While Sunbury Shores describes the trail on the land as unmaintained and the property itself is "under-resourced and underused," Chandler said she knows daily trail users. She said she is also aware of some neighbours that try to maintain the trail "and they are doing the best they can."

She said a lot of people use the trail for skiing and snowshoeing, and there is a wide range of wildlife and plants found there.

Lori MacKenzie, who lives beside the house owned by Chandler's parents, said she visits the trail during winter "just about every day." She has noticed the trail's usage has increased in the last couple of years, often crossing paths with people while walking her dog.

MacKenzie said the neighbours have raised concerns in the past when there were talks about developing the Two Meadows property and she assumes that the same people will speak out again.

"I think very clearly that the neighbourhoods do not want a development there," she said.

Angela McLean, executive director of Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre, said the organization is "concerned about nature" – as the word "nature" is in the organization's name – and it will consider it when looking at development ideas. She said Sunbury Shores was unaware of residents maintaining and using the trail, adding the organization itself hasn't been doing maintenance on it.

The process for a possible development will involve hearing the views of the neighbours before any development occurs, she said, but at this point in time, Sunbury Shores is only looking for ideas and expressions of interest to understand what could be done with the property. No final decisions on whether or not to develop the land have been made, she added.

The deadline to submit an expression of interest on the property is at Nov. 28 at 4 p.m.

Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson previously told the Telegraph-Journal that he’d like to find out if the Two Meadows property is in an “environmentally sensitive area,” and as the parcel of land is adjacent to the Algonquin golf course, he would also like to hear from the club and the other neighbours if construction is proposed.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal