Plan to close Clearview road stirs residents, environmental groups

A coalition of residents and environmental groups is continuing a fight against a road agreement it says was reached behind closed doors and could have a negative impact on community safety and the environment.

A group calling itself Quarry Aware — a coalition of residents and citizen groups —  is raising questions about the deal that saw what was formerly County Road 91 transferred to an aggregate company.

While the agreement between the County of Simcoe, Clearview Township and Walker Industries to transfer 91 to Walker is now more than six years old — one of the conditions of — the process of handing over and closing the road has been delayed while the township gets approvals from the Niagara Escarpment Commission to upgrade the surrounding road network.

Under the agreement, Walker would take ownership of County Road 91 west from the 10th Concession to the township boundary, and nearly $10 million would be spent in upgrades to 91 east to Duntroon — which are now complete — as well as the 10th Concession and the .

The work would largely be financed by the aggregate company.

Quarry Aware member Doug Dingeldein said the matter has been brought back to the fore because of the upcoming municipal election, citing community security and road safety issues.

“We want to put pressure on people who are running,” he said. “It’s an issue because there’s a growing awareness in the community of the implications of closing that road.

“People are stunned when they find that the road is going to be closed, they don’t believe it,: he said. “It’s been dragged on so long that people think it’s gone away, it’s dead, because nothing has happened.”

The environment is also a factor, as the agreement specifies that in closing 91, the 26/27 Sideroad — which is essentially only passable in summer — would be upgraded to year-round use; environmentalists say that would negatively affect a nearby cold-water stream used as a spawning area for brook trout.

In 2015, the NEC denied the township’s application to upgrade Sideroad 26/27 west of the 10th Line to the municipal boundary. The municipality has since made an application to amend the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP), and is challenging the NEC’s decision through the Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office (NEHO).

The NEC turned down the permit because the project did not meet the commission’s test of ‘essential’, though NEC planners had supported the application. The NEC’s decision has been backed at the tribunal by neighbours and the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, which has party status at the NEHO hearing.

George Powell, a member of the Trust’s Watershed Action Group, said while the Trust is not affiliated with Quarry Aware, the two groups share similar goals.

Powell said the Trust wanted to see a class environmental assessment of the 26/27 proposal, “otherwise (the township) would not be in this mess.

“This is a transportation issue, but it is also an environmental issue,” he said, noting the sideroad runs through the highest point in Ontario and is the headwaters for four area streams.

Powell said several additional wetland areas along the sideroad were not documented in the original application by the township, and the Trust has asked the Minister of the Environment to suspend the hearing process.

“The initial failure by Clearview Township to carry out the appropriate level of environmental assessment remains as a serious and major problem,” Powell wrote to Minister Rod Phillips in July. In response, the ministry declined to get involved, citing the ongoing hearing process.

A status update on the township’s appeal will be held Aug. 18.

Clearview Township officials declined to comment to Quarry Aware’s position on the agreement. In an email to, the township’s communications and marketing co-ordinator Tim Hendry stated the township’s appeal of the NEC decision is ongoing, and municipal officials continue to work toward completing an amendment to the NEP.

The township is also awaiting on the NEC to approve a development permit to repave the 10th Line from 124 to north of 26/27. The township budgeted $4 million in the 2018 budget for the work; $3 million would come from Walker, while the township’s share would be funded through gas tax revenue.

Quarry Aware has asked for a traffic study to be undertaken on the area, and “none has been forthcoming,” said Dingeldein.

“We want it stopped — there are no ifs, ands, buts or maybes, we want the deal jettisoned. That’s the easiest thing,” Dingeldein said. “I don’t think the taxpayers in Clearview have a really good idea of what their council is spending on this project — spending on lawyers, planners, experts, studies, and it’s been going on a long time.”

New $6.4M fire hall slated for Bradford

It’s been a long time coming, but Bradford West Gwillimbury will finally get a new fire hall after council gave the go-ahead for a $14 million redevelopment project involving a new station and public works operations centres.

“We can’t overestimate just how important this project is,” Mayor Rob Keffer said regarding the town’s redevelopment plan for Melbourne Drive and Line 11 at council June 19.

“It’s a big big project, but something our community is desperately in need of,” Deputy Mayor James LeDuc said.

“We’ve done a lot of capital expenditure for growth related issues and now we need to start looking at some of the services that our residents need.”

BWG Fire Chief Kevin Gallant said the new 2-storey, 19,000-sq.ft. hall, to be built at a cost of $6.4 million beside the current facility on the vacant town-owned 5.8-acre site at 75 Melbourne Drive, addresses current needs as well as accommodating growth in the community, in terms of location, response times and design.

According to the department’s master plan, the site of the new build is “almost in the optimum location for the urban area in regards to a four-minute response time,” Gallant said.

As far as construction timelines, Gallant said he’d like to see it built “as soon as possible because the department is really stretched thin at this point.”

While the new fire station can be built without any significant disruption of service to current fire operations, the town’s water and transportation services’ urban operations — also currently housed on Melbourne Drive — will be “significantly impacted,” according to the staff report tabled.

While the new hall is being built, the current operations buildings will need to be demolished.

As a result, $1 million is being allocated to build a new 12,000-sq. ft. facility for the water department at 3541 Line 11 as well as a second 12,000-sq. ft. building to store equipment.

Consolidating operations and equipment on to town-owned land will “provide greater efficiencies” by eliminating the town’s current lease costs for storage as well as prevent any disruption in service by fast-tracking construction ideally by October, the report states.

Under a $6.5 million budget, the old fire station will be re-purposed to house the transportation division’s urban operations centre as well as a rural works yard.

Construction on Line 11 is the first step, with an anticipated 2019 completion date.

Construction on Melbourne Drive is slated to begin next year and completed in 2021.

“We could probably pull the Melbourne construction off within a 12 to 16-month window,” the town’s director of community services Terry Foran said.

Since a good deal of the project is required as a result of growth, about two-thirds of the $14 million total cost will be covered by Development Charges, which are paid to the town by developers.

The project is the first phase of the town’s multi-year facilities initiative, which also includes a second fire station to serve the Hwy. 400 employment lands and Bond Head by 2022.

With town staff currently working in 10 different locations at eight different sites, a $35-million consolidated administration centre is also part of the long-term plan.

Clare Riepma – Barrie Ward 1

I was born on a farm in southwestern Ontario and went to university in Toronto.  We chose to live in Barrie because it has a lot to offer and to be closer to our parents, children and grandchildren.

I am a civil engineer with a master’s degree in environmental studies and have my own consulting company working primarily as a city planner. 

I have worked in many municipalities throughout Ontario and as a result have a great deal of experience in the area of municipal government.  I have always been involved in my community and have served as president of the Barrie East End Householders Association, on Town and Gown, North Shore Working Group, and various other municipal advisory committees over the years.

It is time for a change in Ward 1.  Time for a more positive and collaborative approach to resolving issues in Ward 1.  Listening to resident’s concerns and doing something about them is my priority.

Our roads are rough but we pay generous taxes.  We need better value for our tax dollar.  I will work hard to find efficiencies in the city’s operations so that we can hold the line on taxes.  

Our neighbourhoods were not designed to accommodate the numbers of students currently living in some of them. 

As a result, there are conflicts and some absentee landowners are having a negative effect in some our neighbourhoods. 

I will propose that these units be better regulated and inspected to ensure that they are safe and that standards such as parking and maintenance are respected.

We need to attract more businesses to Barrie.  People need good jobs close to home and our youth need opportunities as well.  We need to balance our industrial – residential assessment to bring our taxes into line.

I am a strong supporter of our downtown, and our waterfront.  We need to bring more people, the arts and economic activity to the area to support our local businesses.