Residents ticked over trail diversion in TBM

·3 min read

The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) is considering rerouting a public trail that was planned for the Bannerman subdivision.

The original subdivision plans proposed a trail beginning on Grey Road 19, with street access on Schoolhouse Court, that would abut the backside of three properties and continue into the Parkbridge trail system.

The town is considering re-routing the trail because the municipal lands owned behind the Schoolhouse Court properties are not wide enough to meet the width requirement of the town.

“When we look at how trails are meant to be built today, and try to reconcile that with the width of the [land] there, the [land] that we have is too narrow,” said Director of Development and Planning Services Nathan Westendorp. “We can't fit a safe trail through, so we've been forced to find a different route.”

The original trail plan would also require the town to build a staircase passing over steep landscape features, as well as building passage over a watercourse before connecting with the Parkbridge trail system.

Staff have proposed an alternative trail development that would see the trail begin on Lakeshore Drive and continue into the Parkbridge trail system, which would avoid the need for a staircase and the passage of a watercourse.

Several residents have expressed frustration with the proposed change, citing a lack of consultation from the town and reduced connectivity with the neighbourhood.

“When the Bannerman subdivision was first proposed and when it was approved, it included a public trail that would start at Grey Road 19 and join the extensive trail through the Parkbridge development,” said Terry Bunting in a statement to the town. “To change this now, without having formally notified neighbouring property owners and the general public and seeking their comments, is an abuse of process.”

Bunting also spoke to the views that the original trail plan would have provided.

“The subdivision’s original trail would provide a close view of the Nipissing Ridge which is a key feature in the town's natural and cultural heritage, and it's not available in many places. To eliminate a section of trail featuring these views would be a mistake.”

Pamela Spence argued that the trail is an obligation of the subdivision.

“The town should not give up this trail and access,” she said in a statement to the town. “The obligations of the Bannerman subdivision approvals are not met without completing the original trail connection.”

Council pointed out several issues with the original trail plan.

Mayor Alar Soever said that the municipal lands abutting the homes on Schoolhouse Court have been landscaped and impeded on by the homeowners.

“There is an issue with at least one of these houses impinging across this line with their landscaping and possibly their structure as well,” he said.

Councillor Andrea Matrosovs pointed out that the original trail plan has accessibility issues.

“A steep staircase is a liability issue, but it’s also a barrier for those who can’t climb stairs there,” she said. ”The new route is providing the width we need for user-friendly access – it’s also taking a grade that’s actually more accessible to more people.”

Despite any issues with the original trail plan, Councillor Paula Hope expressed concern about the lack of public consultation involved in the proposed trail realignment.

“I'm really reluctant to move forward with a plan that has not been reviewed, or there hasn't been any public consultation so I still remain uncomfortable about that issue,” she said.

Council directed town staff to hold a public information centre regarding the proposed realignment of the trail.

Greg McGrath-Goudie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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