The Municipality of Powassan will continue the work at developing a multi-use trail and realigning the entrance to the industrial park despite the objections of two councillors who missed the meeting where both initiatives were passed.
Councillors Dave Britton and Markus Wand were not present at the July 19 meeting where Deputy Mayor Randy Hall introduced a resolution involving the creation of a multi-use trail and another resolution to acquire two short roadways from the Ministry of Transportation in order to realign the road to the industrial park.
Britton and Wand raised their objections during the Adoption of the Minutes of council's most recent meeting with Wand leading the debate.
“Given our financial position, I don't think we should be (taking projects on) in principle,” Wand said.
“We don't have the money to put into it. That trail will cost a fair amount of money to make it happen.”
Wand noted his bigger concern was the notion of buying a stretch of the former Highway 534 and Fair View Lane from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to accommodate the industrial park proposal.
Wand said both he and Britton have been working with MTO staff and the riding MPP on issues involving the industrial park.
Wand said large trucks making a hairpin turn so they can easily drive into the industrial park, which Hall's proposal was designed to resolve, was only one of several issues involving the industrial park.
Wand said a major point involved developers who want to get buildings up at the site, a point Britton expanded on.
Britton said this work was still at a development stage and that both he and Wand said earlier in time they would work on the project and bring it back to council.
“There are a lot of parts to the puzzle,” Britton said.
“We want to get this successfully activated so these developers can actually get into the industrial park and we have something there. Acquiring (the roads) is not the place where we want to be.”
Britton said despite the length of time the project is taking, neither he nor Wand is giving up on their work adding the project “is a great opportunity and will be successful.”
Hall addressed both councillors' objections beginning with the multi-use trail.
Hall's proposal calls for the trail to be developed on a strip of land between Main Street and Highway 11.
It would cover a distance of about 4.3 kilometres and start at the town's south end by the Wagon Wheel restaurant and wind its way north to McCharles Line.
Hall said the commitment to look at developing the trail didn't mean the municipality “was going to pay for anything.”
He suggested the municipality could get government grants and also several local companies may be able to help with the trail development.
A key area for the trail is getting over a wetland area, something Hall said a Bailey Bridge is able to resolve, adding he's talked to people who may be able to make that happen.
Hall said he proposed the town's recreation committee look into developing the trail because with municipal elections looming, town councils will enter a lame duck period where they can't approve major projects or expenditures.
Hall added a multi-use trail might encourage some economic benefits from visitors who eat at local restaurants and gas up locally.
“There are benefits,” he said.
“It's not just about putting a trail system through.”
As for the road acquisition, Hall cited the same lame duck argument for the timing of his resolution.
He said in the end the municipality might not acquire the two roads and also raised the issue because he was asked to do so by a local resident.
Hall repeated statements from the July meeting that his resolution only dealt with starting a conversation with the MTO on acquiring the roads.
“There is nothing in the resolution about us purchasing the roads or bringing road standards up,” he said.
“I'm also not trying to undermine anything (else) that's going on. I brought this forward not knowing you guys were not going to be here and it passed. I'm taking a bit of an exception here with the fact that I brought something forward and it's being addressed as if I had some other agenda.”
Hall said what his resolution aimed to accomplish was different from Wand's and Britton's project.
Hall said if during the conversation the MTO said it wanted $1 million for both roads, then the municipality would walk away.
But Hall said in his opinion it's an entirely different matter if the MTO offers up the roads for free.
Britton said even under that scenario the municipality would have to consider the cost to bring the roads up to standards before accepting them.
In response Hall said “maybe there's a cost to owning the roads, maybe there wouldn't be.”
Staff and the recreation committee will continue the work set out for them in both resolutions.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget