Township of Clearview’s request for Side Road 26/27 Niagara Escarpment Plan Amendment PS 215-18.
The root of the problem is the proposed closing of a well-used section of former County Road 91 (Road 91) without providing an equivalent alternate route connecting Simcoe and Grey Counties.
The road proposed to replace the closed section of Road 91 is Clearview’s Nottawasaga, Side Road 26/27 and does not meet MTO or Clearview’s Engineering Road Standards. This road is presently a narrow, steep, seasonal road that goes straight up the Escarpment at a grade of 14%, almost twice as steep as Road 91 in the section to be closed and turned over to Walker Industries Inc. The proposed road is limited to half load restrictions during the spring period and would not permit heavy commercial vehicles to use Side Road 26/27. Emergency vehicles and emergency detours would most likely not use Side Road 26/27.
Side Road 26/27 runs through steep slopes and wetlands. Reconstruction of Side Road 26/27 would negatively impact woodlands, wetlands, wildlife, aquatic organisms and fisheries. For this reason, the Niagara Escarpment Commission refused Clearview’s development application by a vote of 12 to 1 on November 27, 2015. Clearview was the only member that did not support the NEC decision.
At a meeting held by Grey Highland area residents on May 9, 2019, the residents voiced their concerns with respect to the closing of Road 91. The reasons given were increased time to travel to work, concern with how emergency vehicles would service the area, impact on trucks and commercial vehicles that cannot use the road during load restriction periods. No one supported Clearview’s position.
Mayor McQueen, of Grey Highlands and members of the Township of Grey Highlands were in attendance to hear residents’ concerns.
The Mayor of the Town of The Blue Mountains, Mayor Soever, was in attendance and voiced his concerns that the loss of this well-established major arterial inter-county road impacted the effectiveness of the Grey Simcoe County road network, impacted his municipality and the municipalities and commercial interests further up the Bruce Peninsula.
Lastly, Clearview carried out this proposed road project at the lowest level of Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MECA), a Schedule A+ undertaking and a schedule normally used for routine projects that do not have an environmental impact. No public information sessions are required by this level of MCEA. The fact the road development application was refused by the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Clearview’s consultants had to spend over two years carrying out additional environmental surveys resulting in over 800 pages of documentation should have made Clearview and the approval agencies realize the serious impact the proposed road has on the environment.
No public meetings were held to gain public input and consider alternatives despite our requests to carry out a higher schedule MCEA. The current Side Road 26/27 construction estimate has now increased from $500,000 to $4,000,000. This level of expenditure normally requires a Schedule C undertaking, which is what the BMWT recommends. For this reason, we requested a Bump-up of the MCEA for Side Road 26/27 from a Schedule A+ to a Schedule C undertaking. This level requires public input and the consideration of alternatives.
Make yourself heard.
If you would like to help protect the Niagara Escarpment, and request an alternative to redevelopment of sideroad 26/27, send an email to Nancy Mott, NEC Senior Strategic Advisor, Nancy.firstname.lastname@example.org (905-8767-8363).
Other ways to help:
- Urge Grey Highlands Council and Grey County to oppose the closure of Rd 91
- Write to Clearview Twp councillors and Simcoe County with your objections
- Write to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing objecting to the road closure
- Write to the Minister of Transportation about the road safety issues that would be caused by the road closure
- Write to the Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport that the closure will harm the South Georgian Bay tourism industry
- Write to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry about your concerns that work on SR 26/27 will damage the Escarpment and the cold water stream
- Write to the Minister of environment, Conservation and Parks that a Class C environmental assessment is a more appropriate process for evaluating Clearview’s NEP amendment application for SR 26/27.
By George Powell, member of Watershed Action Group