Andrew Dowie Ward 1 Tecumseh

Riverside Drive Trail

Recently there has been some concern from residents on Riverside Drive about the prospect of a new trail linking the Ganatchio Trail in Windsor to Lakewood Park and the existing cycling facilities on Riverside east of Manning.

The idea for a trail is being put out for discussion for a few reasons:

1)  With Canada Post's decision to eliminate home delivery, residents on Riverside and some of the side streets like Pinewood have to walk to adjacent streets to reach their mail.  There's a lot more demand now for pedestrian facilities on Riverside Drive than there was prior.

2)  There is a sidewalk on the north side of Riverside Drive.  The water from the road currently drains down onto the sidewalk as it is higher.  The sidewalk frequently has spots under water.  In the wintertime this ponding is further concerning because it could become ice.  There is no easy solution.  The sidewalk as a whole needs to be raised if it is to be drier.

3)  The County-Wide Active Transportation System (CWATS) was developed over the past few years.  One of the recommendations was to construct bicycle lanes on Riverside Drive between the City of Windsor limit and Lakewood Park.  This fills a cycling facility gap.

There is a good case to be made that our present day circumstances for both walking and cycling are not ideal.  If Tecumseh builds the bicycle lanes, it's a cycling improvement but the new area for water to run off from may end up onto the sidewalk and make that problem worse.

By considering a trail both cycling and walking are addressed at the same time with expected economies of scale on cost.  It is for this reason that the idea for a trail is being pursued in lieu of the two separate projects.

A public meeting was hosted on September 13th.  I had the chance to speak with several residents at that meeting, with a good distribution between those living right on Riverside Drive and those who live elsewhere but had an interest in the trail.

The stage that concluded today was Step 1 of many to come.  The concept drawings for a trail and what it would look like needed to be put on paper to give an idea of what it would look like.  Concepts were developed for both the north and south side of Riverside Drive.  Only one would be pursued.  Both scenarios have major challenges that need to be overcome.  With the comments that have been received so far, the consultant, Bezaire Partners, will come to a recommendation about what side of Riverside Drive to focus efforts on for a design.  This will be brought back further for public input and further refinement based on comments received.

In the event that a design is finalized, then Council would need to prioritize this work among the many infrastructure works being sought out.  As this is not maintenance-related, it is not part of any current operational program funded by your property taxes.  It would have to come from grants and accounts like our New Infrastructure Fund, that already have several projects aiming to use the same dollars.

Consequently:

1)  Public engagement is not over.  We concluded our opportunity to comment about the general idea of a trail on Friday September 29th.  This cutoff is so that Bezaire and Associates can read the comments and recommend what to focus on, and abandon design concepts that do not work.  They may need a lot of time to figure this out.  We don't know how long it may take.  There will be more opportunity to have a voice when there is an actual, tangible proposal on the table.

2)  Funding is not allocated.  Council needs to decide whether this project is funded or not.  It can't make that determination until there is detailed design that will address issues like electrical poles, drainage, adjacent property impacts, etc.  This can only happen at the conclusion of the consultation process.

3)  Private property is not expected to be directly affected.  The concepts shown do not show a need for property taking.  The Town's existing road allowance has room for this trail on either side.

4)  Property values are determined by market sales.  Improvement to our facilities in the right-of-way may be attractive to some families or individuals.

You can see the specific design concepts yourself at the Town website here.

In the meantime you can continue to send your comments and concerns my way to keep me informed.  I can then let you know when the next opportunity to comment officially will be.  I expect that the time to refine the comments received so far and make a recommendation will be extensive.  It is destined to be quite a difficult task.  This is not likely to come back for discussion before the municipal election next year.

I would be pleased to speak further on this with you at andrew@andrewdowie.ca or 226-773-1910.

Cheers!

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