| May 24, 2007

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Feature Article - 24, 2007

Davison straightens out county over K&Ptrail funding

by Jeff Green

A staff report was presented to Frontenac county council last week on how a $289,000 rural infrastructure grant should be spent. The grant is earmarked for the purchase and development of the K&P rail line into a trail.

The long moribund K&P trail initiative was given new life late last year when the City of Kingston purchased their portion of the line and entered into a management agreement with the Cataraqui Trail Authority. Kingston then approached South Frontenac Township, urging them to look into purchasing the portion of the line in the township.


With the offer of funding support from Bedford District’s parkland reserve funds, South Frontenac allocated $100,000 towards the purchase of the line and trail development in this year’s budget.

In discussions with county staff, it was determined that the county could support the initiative by applying for an infrastructure grant. The grant application was successful.

At that point, it was suggested that all of the line that falls in South Frontenac should be purchased. A complication arose because the former rail line runs into Central Frontenac at the Arena Boundary Road in Piccadilly, and re-enters South Frontenac about 20 kilometres further north, on the other side of Tichborne.

Even though Central Frontenac council decided to stay out of the trail purchase for now, county council was so keen on moving forward that it agreed to purchase the Central Frontenac portion itself, with the understanding that Central Frontenac might be interested at a later date.

All of this was acceptable to South Frontenac, but when the staff report was presented to county council last week, it proposed spending $179,000 for trail upgrades, and only $110,000 to pay for surveys and acquisition of the entire Central Frontenac portion and as much of the South Frontenac portion as it could cover. Whatever else is required for the South Frontenac purchase would then come from the $100,000 South Frontenac has allocated.

“This was South Frontenac’s initiative in the first place, and the county applied for the grant at our request, but now it looks like we are left to pay for our share of the trail, and a lot of the grant is going to Central,” said South Frontenac Mayor Gary Davison in response to the proposal

“As I understand it, the acquisition and survey costs are clear,” said Frontenac County CAO Elizabeth Fulton, “The upgrades, however, are significant, including bridgework and potential realignment. This money will not open the trail.”

“As I see it the initiative started in South Frontenac” Davison reiterated, “I’m still on the hook for at least $70,000. Is Central Frontenac putting any money in?”

“No,” said Central Frontenac Mayor Janet Gutowski, “this issue has not been a priority item for us. However we want to co-operate and remain active in it. But we haven’t put any money towards it.”

“I suggest that we amend the recommendation, so that the grant will go towards the entire cost of surveying and purchasing the portion of the trail in South and Central Frontenac, and whatever is left over be devoted to trail upgrades,” said Elizabeth Fulton.

With Davison somewhat mollified, the amended proposal was accepted.

Numerous hurdles to developing the K&P trail remain, including fencing (for which the county might now be liable); the construction of several bridges; opposition from some neighbouring residents; and dealing with parts of the abandoned rail line that have been sold off. For example, a section of the line at the north end of Tichborne is privately held.

The county initiative also does not include the portion of the K&P line that runs from the very top of Bedford District to join with the Trans Canada Trail at Sharbot Lake. Much of the rail line in that stretch is privately held as well.

In addition, the Trans Canada trail is managed by the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance, a proponent of multi-use trails with an emphasis on ATV use, whereas any K&P trail that emerges will be managed by the Cataraqui Trail Foundation, which runs non-motorised trails.

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