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Laurel Creek ESL committee seeks Wellesley’s support for traffic study

An environmental group concerned about the future of an area deemed an environmentally sensitive landscape (ESL) wants the help of local municipalities, including Wellesley Township, as it pushes for a traffic study.

Development and increased traffic on the west side of the region are threatening the Laurel Creek headwaters, says the public liaison committee involved with the ESL. It wants council’s backing for a comprehensive traffic study.

Committee vice-chair Dianne Ensing addressed Wellesley councillors Tuesday night, asking for a financial contribution.

“Specifically we are requesting support and participation in a comprehensive study that would assess the increasing traffic on ESL roads and would provide mitigation measures to improve environmental protection and safety for end users.”

The study would investigate environmental impacts of roads located within the ESL, a 5,300-acre area that straddles a portion of the City of Waterloo and Woolwich, Wellesley and Wilmot townships.

“It lies adjacent to a large, growing population base. This landscape provides significant habitat to a rich diversity of flora and fauna including threatened and provincially significant species. It’s an area important to groundwater recharge and discharge including a cold water fishery,” Ensing explained.

She added that recent commercial and residential development signals a need to study current environmental impacts.

The study would include the commercial strip on Ira Needles Boulevard in Waterloo, the junction of Kressler Road and Weimer Line in Wellesley and the junction of Berlett’s Road and Wilmot Line. They’re the locations that see the majority of impacts of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Ensing predicted the use of ESL roads will continue to increase with residential and commercial growth in the region. Even recreational use of the area, she said, can challenge road safety and environmental conservation.

In Wellesley the impacts are related to the traffic along Kressler Road, including heavy trucks from the local aggregate and agricultural industries, she explained.

“I want to hear what the region has to say about this and I’m sure they will be interested in looking after this area. To a reasonable extent, I would support protecting that area,” said Mayor Ross Kelterborn in response to her request.

He added that council will have to learn more about the nature of traffic in the township.

Coun. Herb Neher asked for further details on what the study will encompass and at what cost.

“I think you’re going to have a problem selling something where there is no price tag attached,” he said.

Ensing countered by saying she hopes various municipal staff can come together and establish a framework and estimate anticipated costs.

“Sometimes you can get universities to help out with these studies and they will do it free, that’s just food for thought,” Neher added.

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