KAWARTHA LAKES – To gather more public input, a potential link for off-road vehicles to travel on through the town of Lindsay has been deferred until September.
At the June 1 Committee of the Whole meeting, the ORV Task Force brought forward proposed routes for Lindsay and Bobcaygeon.
Council endorsed one route through Lindsay to allow ATVs to link between trails as a two-year pilot program, to be reviewed after one year. The route would be as follows: Trail Head to Logie Street, Logie Street to King Street, King Street to Lindsay Street, Lindsay Street to Wellington Street, Wellington Street to Victoria Avenue, Victoria Avenue to Elgin Street, Elgin Street to Angeline Street, Angeline Street to Thunderbridge Road.
But at a recent council meeting, Councillor Pat O’Reilly’s extracted the item and a new vote was done to defer the potential pilot project until September.
Council has also decided to resume the discussion for Bobcaygeon, as well as other areas within the municipality, later this fall with a report back by the end of the year.
Councillor O’Reilly noted that the number of calls and emails expressing concerns have been overwhelming and more public consultation is needed.
“The decision is premature, we have hundreds of signatures on a petition to fight against the pilot project, these concerns are legitimate,” he said.
Councillor Doug Elmslie supported the extraction as he has also received countless phone calls and concerns regarding the pilot program.
“There has been many, many, many phone calls and emails and I guess one of the things I’ve heard is that people didn’t feel they had adequate notice and opportunity of what was transpiring, we have a responsibility to make sure people can have their say,” he said. “ I certainly have the opinion that we should do a trail, a pilot project through Lindsay but I am willing to wait get more input to make sure everyone who wants their say gets it, It’s probably a prudent way to do things.”
Many other councillors voted against the extraction as the task force has been working to create connectivity in Kawartha Lakes for months.
Councillor Ron Ashmore was opposed to the extraction and noted that no other alternatives have been brought forward from the public.
“People need to try to look at what’s going on in their community, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t heard about this, you got to wake up, if you care about your community you should have been listening to what’s going on in your community,” he said. “For the majority of comments and slew of emails we have had, I respect their opinion, I’m not saying I don’t but what is your alternative, what is your plan. The health unit should stay out of politics, leave that to us. We have to make a decision today, let’s do it now. Putting it off isn’t going to change anything.”
Mayor Andy Letham was shocked at some of the comments by council and voted in favour of extracting the pilot program until September.
“I’m a little bit shocked by some of the comments, I have to admit, number one, there is no rush here, no big rush to do this for the fall, it hasn’t been in place forever and in fairness, the new route was proposed at the last committee of the whole meeting two weeks ago, in fairness some people haven’t heard of it,” he said. “I like the motion, since when don’t we want to hear from our constituents, we can’t just say well they’re in Lindsay, they’re not my constituents.”
Mayor Letham noted that he is not opposed to the potential route through Lindsay but rushing it is not necessary.
“We can argue all day long but at the end of the day, this will benefit a few, offering a convenience to a select few, to the annoyance of many, “ he continued. “If we have 1000 people respond and 900 of them don’t want it, are we as elected officials going to say we heard it all before, I want to know what my continuants opinion, it’s not about my opinion, it isn’t what I think, I represent my constituents and I want to hear from them and if we are sending the message that we don’t want to hear more from them, that’s not what we are here for folks.”
The vote landed five to four and a potential route through Lindsay and other parts of the municipality will be revisited in the fall.
“Council has decided to extend the review of the Lindsay route to provide a longer time frame to take in all public considerations and concerns,” said Councillor Tracy Richardson, who is part of the ORV Task Force. “From the birth of the ORV Task Force it has been about recognizing the growth of ORV use in the CKL and how can we manage the growth by providing safe and legal connections. I am confident that we will continue to work on finding reasonable solutions, taking into consideration both urban and rural interests.”
Council is looking for more input from the public. To receive clear feedback, Council has designed a short survey. The survey is available online or as a hard copy at the Lindsay Service Centre until July 30, 2021. All feedback, especially from residents who live within the impacted areas of the proposed route, is encouraged and will help Council determine the best course of action.