Fewer encroachments found on Howard Watson trail

Wildflowers (phlox ) along the Howard Watson Trail. Glenn OgilvieWildflowers (phlox ) along the Howard Watson Trail. Glenn Ogilvie

Troy Shantz

A public information campaign meant to deter encroachment on the Howard Watson Nature Trail is proving effective, the city says.

Although numbers aren’t yet available an inspection in June found fewer encroachments on the trail, said Ryan Chamney, manager of recreation and planning.

A ‘Guide for Neighbours’ was distributed to adjacent property owners that clearly explains why they shouldn’t erect fences, dig gardens and build storage sheds on public property.

The information was also published on the city’s website, www.sarnia.ca.

“It was more about the education,” said Chamney. “I think people were unclear what they could or couldn’t do along the trail.”

City staff has been in contact with homeowners, seen several encroached areas repaired, and will continue to monitor the trail, he said.

“We’ve had trail users and homeowners alike contact us to (say they) appreciate the information, now that they know.”

The Guide for Neighbours was produced in partnership with Return the Landscape with input from the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee. It defines encroachment as the use of public land without permission and includes the dumping yard waste or garbage, removing vegetation and draining pools.

The Howard Watson Nature trail boasts 17 species of butterflies and 150 species of plants, including 14 listed as at-risk or threatened.

The document gives property owners who encroach on the trail 30 days to return damaged areas to their original state or face charges under the Provincial Offences Act.