Some feel road too dangerous to allow events at Rockwood farm

BRUCEDALE — Some Guelph/Eramosa residents have safety concerns about a proposal to allow events on a farm located on a busy stretch of road just south west of Rockwood.

Owners of the farm at 5028 Wellington Rd. 44 are seeking a variance to allow events, including meetings and weddings, of up to 75 people on the property.

The request, but no decision, came before Guelph/Eramosa Township council Monday afternoon.

Several residents delegated on the issue, expressing concerns about the increased traffic on a winding stretch of road that has seen several serious accidents in the past.

The farm is located near the winding 'S' stretch of road running behind Rockwood Conservation Area off of Highway 7 that turns into the Guelph Line.

Nearby resident Vanessa Ireson spoke about the accidents that have previously occurred in the immediate area of the farm.

“We’re also on a blind curve where there are consistently really bad accidents, literally right next to my house. I am often a first responder and the person who calls 911 when one, two, three, four, five cars go into the ditch next to our house,” Ireson said.

Ireson explained the severity of the accidents.

“I have been first person on site for three deaths, maybe three years ago this weekend. The road is not designed for more traffic and people that don’t know the road,” Ireson continued.

Her concern was echoed by another local resident, Matthew Brown.

“I have loved ones who’ve worked in fire for a number of years and I have heard this area of Wellington Rd 44 being referred to as ‘death valley’ countless of times, for the number of people that have been lost, the tragic number of accidents that go through annually, it devastates our community every time.”

Brown worries that if the plan goes through, the increased traffic from events will result in increased accidents.

“It sickens me to think that that number is going to go up because we are increasing the amount of traffic on that road,” Brown said.

Planner Joanna Salsberg noted the expected presence of people on the farm, should the events be allowed.

“The maximum attendance proposed is 75 people with a maximum of three meetings, conferences, or other events per week,” Salsberg said.

The owner of the farm, Sabine Viet, explained what activities would be happening.

“To educate what we’re doing to the land … It’s educational, it’s bringing people back to, when you come, I live in the city, when I come down to the farm, it’s just like your speed goes down right away, right? You’re able to relax. You’re able to take it slow. You observe what nature does, the seasons do,” Viet said.

The staff report noted the sort of events and activities intended for the event venue.

“The types of events proposed range from special events such as weddings and local food festivals to meeting/conference space for professionals and organizations.The application also proposes to establish permissions for recreational activities (such as snow shoeing, cross-country skiing etc.)” as written in the report.

The meeting was an opportunity for the council to receive the staff report and for the public to have its say. A decision comes at a later date.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

Jesse Gault, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com