Jeff Green | Oct 25, 2007
Feature Article - October 25, 2007 - October 25, 2007 County "Master Plan" Trail Committee FormedBy Jeff Green
Not without trepidation, members of Frontenac County Council approved the establishment of a trail planning committee to prepare a draft master plan for the trail system in Frontenac County.
Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski brought the concerns of her own council to the county table, and asked that the planning committee “include a representative from the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance (EOTA), who have expertise in trail management.”
“That would be appropriate,’ said Dianna Bratina, the County Manager of Economic Development, who had proposed that the committee be set up, “My report on this was meant as a starting point to try and get this moving.”
Frontenac County has become involved in the often thorny issue of trails in applying for and receiving a rural infrastructure grant of $298,000, dedicated to purchasing former K&P trail lands from Bell Canada. The incentive to do this came from South Frontenac Township, which intends to establish a non-motorised trail running roughly parallel to Highway 38 in order to join the K&P Trail coming out of Kingston with the Cataraqui Trail. The trail would then run north to the boundary with Central Frontenac. South Frontenac intends to have the Cataraqui Trail Foundation, which owns the Cataraqui Trail, manage South Frontenac’s portion of the K&P Trail as well.
The infrastructure grant also covers the cost of purchasing the former railway lands in Central Frontenac, from Piccadilly to Tichborne, which the county will hold in trust until Central Frontenac Council decides to get involved in a north-south trail.
Although the county’s focus is on the K&P Trail, “the committee will be charged with developing a ‘Master Plan’ for all trails in the county,” Gutowski said.
Central Frontenac owns the K&P Trail running north from Sharbot Lake, and has been involved in the purchase of the east-west Trans-Canada Trail, which runs parallel to Highway 7. Those trails are motorised trails, where ATV traffic is common, and they are managed by EOTA.
“South and Central Frontenac both allow them [ATV’s] to run the roads, and we are not going to allow them on the trails. Cataraqui runs non-motorised trails, and EOTA runs motorised trails, so I don’t know how this is going to work,” said South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison.
With an EOTA representative, the committee will include up to 9 members, including representatives from the county, the two municipalities, the tourism industry, the Frontenac Stewardship Council, and others.
“We are in danger of establishing a committee that is so large that it won’t be able to get anything done,” Davison said.
The committee, which received approval from county council, will have a broad range of topics to look at, including: users and activities, design standards and guidelines, amenities, fees, funding sources, and a trail name. Perhaps the most important two issues they will look at are an implementation plan, which will include the cost of initial upgrades and ongoing maintenance costs, and trail management. The committee will present a draft plan for presentation to the public.
Other council items:
Council roles changing – County council recognises that Frontenac County has a limited profile in the province, and decided to encourage council members and staff to attend more meetings and seek appointments to boards and committees with a provincial profile.
The initiative for this came from Frontenac Islands Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek, who was recently appointed to the County Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. In order to secure the appointment, Vanden Hoek told council that he needed to do some campaigning, which led to out of pocket expenses.
Council approved a new policy, which called for reimbursing Vanden Hoek for some of his costs, subject to review by the county treasurer.
According to the staff report that was accepted by council, the county will pay the conference fees and other expenses of both staff and council members for attendance at “meetings that might be seen to be focused more on the county’s profile … Overall in its 2008 budget, council might be considering a financial commitment to improving the governance and government of its constituents ranging from $30,000 to $40,000”.
Budget direction - In response to the news that the Province of Ontario is planning to upload the costs of the Ontario Disability Support Program from municipal ratepayers, Mayor Vanden Hoek asked that as staff prepares a draft budget for 2008, “Any resulting savings from the uploading of costs are devoted to a tax decrease rather than to program spending increases.”