CLEARVIEW TWP. – A road is dividing neighbours, municipalities and organizations west of Duntroon.
The reconstruction of Clearview Sideroad 26/27 west of Duntroon definitely will not take place this summer as a tribunal involving the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) and Clearview Township will be held in September or October.
Heather Gibbs, a vice-chair of Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, headed up a recent pre-hearing at the Clearview Administration Centre in Stayner in a packed council chamber.
She said her goals were to determine who has status at the hearing, set a date for the hearing and identify problematic issues.
“It’s unsafe,” said Richard Young, who lives year round on the summer road with no winter maintenance, west of Con. 10 and east of the Osprey Clearview Townline.
“We support Clearview bringing it into a safe condition,” he added.
Even when drivers can see, the road becomes snow covered and they continue to drive on the road and get stuck at the bottom, he said. “They follow their GPS and go down hill,” he said, adding that tow truck drivers don’t want to fetch them out of the roadside.
Young has party status as does Clearview Township and Walker Aggregates, supporting the road reconstruction (altering grade and ditches while maintaining a gravel base). The NEC and the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation (BMWTF) have party status supporting leaving it as a natural grade, gravel road.
Clearview Township planned to reconstruct the road this summer, but the NEC’s board members decided turned down Clearview’s application to upgrade 26/27 Sideroad in November. Clearview filed an appeal in December.
Walker Aggregates has an interest in the case due to its expanding quarry being located at 9861 County Road 91, using County Road 91 as a haul route.
A resident spoke at the Nov. 23 Clearview council meeting saying Cty. Rd. 91 is in need of reconstruction to make it more safe. He said trucks have experienced mechanical failure while coming down the hill to the Duntroon corners at Hwy. 124 and that on one occasion, a driver jumped out of the rig when the brakes failed.
In an agreement with Clearview regarding its expansion, Walker Aggregates was to take possession of Cty. Rd. 91, west of Con. 10 and divert vehicular traffic to 26/27.
On Feb. 29, there was a serious collision between a dump truck and SUV at the intersection of Cty. Rd. 91 and Concession 10.
There will be several individuals and groups having participant status. Those objecting to road construction include the Municipality of Grey Highlands, Clearview Community Coalition and property owner Amelia Franks.
“I’m very interested in preserving the Niagara Escarpment, the gravel, the cold water fishery, spawning grounds, residents that live downstream and the wildlife corridor,” said Franks, who added that her family has been a local property owner since 1945.
Those seeking participant status supporting road construction include property owners Mark Bell and Raymond Mueller.
The road in question is part of the Niagara Escarpment and thus controlled by the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), Canada’s first large-scale environmental land use plan. It outlines land use designation, development criteria and related permitted uses, including farming, forestry and mineral resource extractions.
The Niagara Escarpment is also a designated UNESCO World Biosphere due to its land form with a 450-million year old geological history, and vital watersheds. It’s landscape hosts a rich biodiversity of plants and animals, including many Species at Risk.
The NEC is made up of 18 members, including a chair, representing eight municipalities. Clearview’s representative is Coun. Shawn Davidson.
The board refused the application because it did not meet the test of “essential” which requires that all options are taken into consideration.
The second reason for refusal involves the NEC being unhappy with the former lack of approval required when Walker Aggregates began expanding the quarry including a tunnel under Cty. Rd. 91 that will be used to move aggregate from the new Duntroon quarry to the processing plant.
The NEC in its refusal said the tunneling action “further erodes the case for this road project to be deemed essential.”