Jeff Green | Oct 08, 2015

Ashby/White Lake Road access debate continues to fester

Darcy Alkerton, a resident in the Ashby Lake region, appeared as a delegate and presented documentation that, he said, contradicted claims made by Mark Mieske at the previous meeting, which was held in Denbigh on September 21.

At that time Mieske said that he was within his rights to block an illegal road that passed through his property. A public right of way is located at the edge of the property, and passes over a bridge and a creek.

On Monday, Alkerton presented a map and an agreement from 1975, which indicated, he said, that the public access right of way on the property had been moved to where the road that Mieske has blocked is located.

“I see here that the agreement was completed and signed, but was never executed by the township,” said Reeve Hogg.

“I guess so, but the road has been in use since then. It's not something an ambulance can use, but an ATV or even an SUV can get through. The other way around adds 27 kilometres and takes 20 minutes or more,” said Alkerton.

“I think we need to consult our lawyer on this,” said Councilor Bill Cox. “This is new information to us. And I will like to go see it. I've never been there.”

Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch, the only other member of council present, as both ward 1 councilors, Fritsch and Thompson, were absent from the meeting, said she would also like to see the property.

The matter is likely to return to Council on October 19 in Denbigh, when Alkerton said a number of neighbours who use the road are likely to attend.

“I would also like to say that no one has ever made threats about this, as has been claimed,” said Alkerton.

A half-dozen supporters of Mr. Alkerton were at the meeting on Monday, as was Mark Mieske.

Quinte Conservation reports on Solar Power

Council received a document prepared by Terry Murphy, General Manager of Quinte Conservation, on the impact of solar panel projects on the Quinte Watershed, which has its headwaters in Addington Highlands.

The concern that Murphy's report pointed to is the impact of large solar farms on the forest cover in the Quinte Watershed region. Over the entire watershed, the forest cover is well above provincial targets in all aspects. However Prince Edward County, at the south end of the Quinte Watershed, has a much lower level of forest cover, and it is in Prince Edward County that solar projects for over 405 hectares (1,000 acres) have been approved by provincial bodies.

“Large solar farms may cause land degradation and habitat loss ... the creation of solar farms demands clearing and grading of land. This can cause soil compaction, potential alteration of drainage channels and increased runoff and erosion ... Solar farms could have negative impacts on groundwater recharge. Longer term studies need to be done in this area,” says the report, which also says that wind facilities “offer opportunities to share land use with agricultural facilities that solar farms do not.”

The report recommends, among other things, that municipalities should have more input on the location of solar farms and that the conservation authority do a full site evaluation on each proposal before it is approved. It also says that the province should be lobbied to promote hydro where dams already exist, of which there are a number in the Quinte watershed.

“Dams that are already in place for other reasons can be used to produce green energy and have no negative impact on the environment.”

Although there are currently no solar projects in the works in Addington Highlands, Reeve Hogg said it was good to have this report in hand for future reference.

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