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Wellesley neighbourhood opposes township trail proposal

A group of Wellesley residents wants the township to take a hike with its plans for a trail in their neighbourhood.

Citing concerns about safety, costs and depreciating property values, they pressed councillors meeting Tuesday night to drop or revise the project.

Current plans call for a recreational trail adjacent to homes on the west side of Greenwood Hill Road, from Gerber Meadows Drive to Ferris Drive. Nearby residents aren’t happy with the project, nor with the answers they’ve received from planners at a Mar. 23 information session, with 20 of them showing up at council chambers in Crosshill.

Those who attended the council session were assured the trail wasn’t a done deal, despite their claims residents were told at the Mar. 23 public meeting that the project was going ahead.

Three residents addressed council at this week’s meeting, listing safety concerns as a principal objection.

Many of those in attendance were upset about the lack of notice to residents about the plan, lending their full support to the three residents who spoke.

Homeowner Brian Yost told councillors that while he was not against recreational trails in general, he felt that this plan was poor, and would not work for township residents.

“Our objections relate to the placement of this particular trail,” he said. “Property owners did not receive notice. Only two or three of the houses received a small, hard-to-read photocopy of the (trail) plan. Now, they are told that they may lose trees from their landscaping, and receive a chain link fence that is unwanted.”

Safety around use of the trail was the number-one priority for Kevin Yantzi who lives at 1250 Greenwood Hill Rd. The proposed trail would go directly across the end of his driveway, which would be truncated by its construction. As well, he would be forced to back onto an already busy street where those using the trail would pass across his driveway. Visibility is already a problem, he added.

“We are not talking about a sidewalk,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense. This is not part of good planning. It is close to the road. There is going to be very little boulevard. This is being promoted as a multi-use recreational pathway, and everything that entails. It presents a safety issue being so close to the roadway. There is a lot of traffic on that road. That is the nature of the road.”

Council was silent while Wellesley resident Andrea Thompson, who lives on Gerber Meadows Drive, addressed the room.

She is a liability adjustor with certification in risk management. In her assessment, the proposed trail plan was not a plausible or safe idea.

She cited previously unfinished trails along Schweitzer Crescent, pointing out that those residents had the same concerns, and the trail was stopped.

Safety was also at the forefront of her mind, mentioning that part of the plan involved a safety study that wasn’t slated to be carried out until after the trail was complete.

“To ignore the practicality of the physical limitations that exist in some sections of the path is foolish. We believe that the township has to address these concerns of safety and do its due diligence or it is potentially opening itself up to liability and lawsuits,” she said. “This path should be planned before the development. This proposal is not being given the amount of time for proper planning, attention to detail … and does not reflect the concerns and the safety and the citizens on Wellesley,” she argued.

Afterwards, Mayor Joe Nowak assured the residents at the meeting that the plan was not set in stone, and council still had time to review the proposal, make changes and come back to the table.

The subject will be on the agenda at a future meeting, with residents invited to provide input beforehand and at the session itself.

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