Proposed Wroxeter walking trail raises concerns from residents

HOWICK – At the Oct. 18 Township of Howick council meeting, many concerned residents voiced their hesitations surrounding the proposed Wroxeter Walking Trail.

The planned trail in Wroxeter is between the river that runs from Wroxeter Mill Pond and Howick Street in Wroxeter. Residents of properties on Howick Street attended the meeting and provided a delegation illustrating their concerns on the project.

Back in Feb. of this year, council received a report with information of the walking trails in Wroxeter, Forwich and Gorrie. Staff were successful in receiving a grant for the installation of the trails, which covers 70 per cent of the initial cost. The trails were promoted as a positive addition to the community and a way to promote healthy active living in the tri-villages.

However, residents claimed they were not informed of this project and raised concerns regarding the logistics of it.

“The news of The Walking Trail has caught the community off guard as we were given no written notice, and the details of the planning of this project are not easily accessible to the community,” stated the letter submitted to the Township prior to the Oct. 18 meeting by the group of concerned residents.

“We definitely have some concerns about the walking trail being put in, in Wroxeter,” stated Ryan Pettit at the council meeting. Pettit was one of the delegates and is a member of the concerned residents group.

He then went on to explain how there was a lack of notification given to the residents whose properties would back onto the trail on Howick Street.

Further, he worries that the trail will see people experiencing homelessness reside there.

“(It’s) a big invitation for homeless people to come in, and more or less camp there,” explains Pettit.

And with the habitation of homeless people, Pettit explains that other implications will come, such as theft, illegal drug use and abuse and discarded drug paraphernalia. The citizens are concerned about the young children living in the area and wonder what impact these ‘undesirable’ activities will have on them.

Additionally, Pettit brought up the costs associated with trail maintenance, as its location brings concerns.

“This walking trail is almost 100 per cent on a floodplain.. the maintenance cost of repairing the trail after a flood, would be pricey and come out of the taxpayers pocket,” stated Pettit.

Other concerns brought up by residents include garbage collection and disposal on the trail as well as leash restrictions on dogs.

After the delegation, Reeve Doug Harding thanked the residents for coming forward and bringing their concerns to light.

However, the land that the trail is to be built on is Howick Township property, explained Reeve Doug Harding. Although the council understood their concerns, and tried their best to answer the group’s questions, it seems the project is to continue on.

“We’ll leave the discussion where it is now, and you people are going to be watching us,” Harding ended.

Melissa Dunphy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner