Forensic evidence as to the Steve Bauer Trail's popularity. ALAN BOWN

Easy win for motion tabled by John Wink

Pelham Councillor John Wink presented a motion to Pelham Town council on Monday evening, which served as a roadblock to developer Sterling Realty (Niagara) Limited’s plans for trail crossings in the Kunda Park and Forest Park subdivisions in Fonthill.

Wink’s resolution sought to deny roadway crossings of the Steve Bauer Trail, as well as the Gerry Berkhout Trail, in Fenwick, and endorsed the preservation of the natural state of the two trails as they currently exist.

“My concerns are the safety of trail users and the removal of trees surrounding the trail,” Wink told The Voice. “I met with members of the Pelham Tree Conservation Society prior to Christmas, and found that their concerns aligned with my own.”

The Pelham Tree Conservation Society, led by founder Mike Jones, has collected some 4200 names on an online petition supporting Wink’s motion.

“The petition with thousands of names had little to do with my opinion, as the majority of the names on the list appear to be from outside of Pelham,” said Wink. “To be clear, I am not opposed to urban development. I am concerned about the preservation of Town-owned resources. Our trails provide a safe venue for active healthy lifestyles for the residents of Pelham.”

Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Olson opposed the motion, in part because it lumped the two trails together.

“The Berkhout Trail is crossed by local farmers with tractors and farm equipment all the time,” said Olson. “Some have their farm on one side of the trail, and their fields on the other side…so this motion would present difficulties.”

Olson feels that a process needs to be developed to accurately analyze the impact of roadway crossings on the trails.

“We haven’t had a staff report yet, so this motion is premature. I would like to see the issue deferred, so that all the options can be considered.”

Another complication noted by Olson is a potential extension of Merritt Road to Highway 406 with an interchange, an effort by the Region to reduce traffic on Highway 20.

“The impact on Pelham Street will be significant, and I think the folks in Kunda Park need a chance to speak on the matter of access across the trail.

Olson noted that the Pelham Active Transportation Committee has endorsed the trail crossings.

Mayor Marvin Junkin also opposed Wink’s motion, and appealed to council to defer the issue until a staff report is available in February. He said that a staff report is part of the normal process when receiving new subdivision applications, after public meetings have been held and the development has had an opportunity to revise plans based on citizen and staff feedback.

“To vote on this motion, without hearing back from the developer or having the benefit of staff input, is not following proper protocol,” Junkin told The Voice before Monday’s council meeting. “I feel it is imperative that we have all of the facts in front of us. The harder the decision, the more important this step becomes.”

No other councillor responded to The Voice’s request for comment.

During Monday night’s meeting, CAO David Cribbs strongly advised that council go into closed session to discuss potential legal ramifications. After some 45 minutes of discussion, council returned. Olson made a motion to defer the matter until February, but did not get a seconder.

Council proceeded to vote on Wink’s motion, which passed 5-2, with all councillors but Olson and the Mayor voting for it.

“I cannot support this deviation from process,” said Junkin. “A staff report is needed”

For the time being, anyway, there will be no roads crossing either the Steve Bauer Trail in Fonthill, or the Gerry Berkhout Trail in Fenwick.

 

RELATED: Steve Bauer hopes for happy trails in 2021

 

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