Costs mount as Cty Rd 91 fight continues
I read with interest George Powell’s letter in your Dec. 24 issue (page 5) regarding the Feb. 24 hearing conference dealing with Clearview’s Niagara Escarpment Plan amendment and Development Permit applications to upgrade 26/27 Sideroad.
The township’s desire to pursue this upgrade is made necessary by a secret deal made in 2010 between Clearview and Walker Industries to close the western 1.75 km of County Road 91 ending at the township/county line to public use and to sell the full road allowance of that segment to Walker. The present council is the third administration that continues to pursue this deal. It is not clear that there is any end in sight at this time for Clearview’s efforts pushing this deal and those opposing it.
For more than a decade, community and regional conflict has come from individuals, community action groups, organizations such as the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, and adjacent municipal and county jurisdictions not to mention the near unanimous opposition on two occasions of Niagara Escarpment Commissioners. Mr. Powell’s letter has offered many excellent environmental, social and economic reasons why the Clearview/Walker deal is extremely misguided. But there is another reason that may be very relevant to every taxpayer in the township – the mounting cost of lawyers to litigate the deal, the cost of hiring planners and engineering consultants to prepare the documents required to support the applications and act as witnesses, and most significant of all the ballooning cost of actually doing the work that undoubtedly will be required to meet the environmental, safety and other conditions should the applications be approved. The ultimate cost will be in the multi millions of dollars.
If the deal goes ahead, these millions will be spent to upgrade a 2.7 km piece of township road that has never been in significant use for more than 100 years and for all intents and purposes provides little or no value to the vast majority of Clearview taxpayers. This scandal has skated largely under the radar in Clearview, but if Clearview taxpayers are concerned about the prudent use of their money, they need to demand a full financial accounting from Council of the cost of this folly. If taxpayers knew the full truth about the bill that they will be facing, they likely would demand the deal be halted. The biggest part of the bill is on the horizon, but there is still time to stop the “bleeding”. I’m sure there are many places where these tax dollars could go that would provide a much higher benefit for Clearview citizens.
But, the financial cost goes well beyond Clearview’s boarders. The 26/27 Sideroad upgrade made necessary by the proposed closing of County Road 91 needs to be looked at with respect to the financial impact on municipalities to the north as well, especially on the Town of the Blue Mountains. A proposed by-pass around Collingwood and Thornbury is intended to ease the choking traffic jams on Highway 26 along the Bay and will cost many additional millions. County Road 91 is already a key alternative up and down the Escarpment and it alleviates some of this traffic right now. County Road 91 is a significant preferred route for many wanting to go further up the Bruce and around Collingwood and Thornbury.
Our Southern Georgian Bay region is one of the fastest and most economically diverse and successful areas of Ontario. Instead of wasting tax dollars on a needless upgrade of 26/27 Sideroad, Clearview should be lobbying Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, to undertake a regional traffic management plan that takes in the whole of Southern Georgian Bay and support all our vibrant communities.