Coventry TransportationCoventry Transportation
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Oct. 29, 2020 | Thursday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Letter critical of heritage trail was full of errors
Letter to the editor

Dear editor:

This is in response to a letter from Cam Lang, “Heritage Trail deserves a full, comprehensive plan," published Oct. 8.

We feel obliged to write a reply to this letter because there were so many errors and incorrect statements that are clearly false. A clarification is needed. Cam Lang is obviously unaware of the heritage trail committee's work over the past three years.

In fact, there is a comprehensive plan for the trail that was developed after a lot of consultation. For more information he could have easily checked the heritage trail site (www.heritagetrail.ca) to find what we hope to achieve with our four-phase plan.

He is correct that different approaches will be needed for each phase, and as such, a complete plan would be costly and subject to change as the work progresses. Hence, the work and final planning is being done in phases.

The idea for the trail to be a legacy project of the Canada 150 Committee came from a meeting with representatives of the St. Davids community who expressed concern about the condition of the railroad right-of-way between Line 9 and York Road. The NOTL 150 Committee decided that rehabilitation of the entire right-of-way would be an excellent legacy project to protect the trail.

The heritage trail committee is made up of volunteers who have worked hard over the past three years to develop a plan, then figure out how to pay for it, while at the same time listening and responding to comments, both positive and negative, about the plans for Phase 1 of the trail.

All of this has been conducted with full transparency and all our meetings are recorded and available for public viewing as dictated by the town, since we are now an official committee of the town.

As well, the committee is planning a full public review of the town’s plans for the next portion of the trail before we begin to do any work. More details will soon follow on that. The committee is listening and will continue to do so.

Mr. Lang refers to the “slathering of gravel" on what is in fact the first 400 metres of trail. A lot of research and engineering went into the decision to use fine stone filings for the surface rather than paving it.

His statement does no justice to the design and work that went into establishing a solid bed for the new surface so that it would not wash away and remain for many years with minimal maintenance.

Since completion, the usage of that portion of the trail has reportedly doubled. There have been reports of users with walkers and wheelchairs who could not have navigated on the previous rough surface. We on the committee are so pleased that the rehabilitated trail has proven so popular. In fact, Mr. Lang, we do walk it and use it ourselves.

You also refer to the “slaughter of trees.” Seriously? If you had read the explanations published earlier in this very paper, you’d know the removal of some trees was done by the town doing regular maintenance to remove several very large and dangerous dead trees.

This is town property. They are forced to act responsibly to protect users and neighbours on the trail. It had absolutely nothing to do with the heritage trail committee and itsr future plans.

In fact, the committee is committed to maintaining and enhancing the canopy. We have planted several dozen native species on the trail so far and plan to continue this next spring.

Also, as much as we would like it to be the first, the first steam locomotive in the province was not on the Erie and Ontario Line coming into town, it was on the Ontario, Simcoe and Huron United Railroad.

Mr. Lang’s criticism of the heritage trail committee and its volunteers is sadly misplaced and denigrates all volunteers that work so hard to make NOTL a more vital town.

Despite the errors in your letter, one point you make remains true. The committee hopes to protect as well as rehabilitate this vital, historic trail for its full 11-kilometre distance.

Rick Meloen, chair

Tony Chisholm, vice-chair

 Heritage trail committee

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