Road extension over nature trail won’t happen immediately

A planned extension of Rapids Parkway will cover more than half a kilometre of the Howard Watson Nature Trail, north of Exmouth Street. Glenn Ogilvie

Troy Shantz

The city will host an information meeting early next year in a bid to convince residents of the need to extend The Rapids Parkway over a section of the Howard Watson Nature Trail.

A new consultant’s report says new housing and a growing population in the area is putting pressure on road traffic and infrastructure, especially water and sewer lines.

The solution is to extend Rapids Parkway beneath Highway 402 to Exmouth Street and create a T-intersection there with stoplights, city staff say.

New water and sewer lines would be routed beneath the highway.

But such a project will ruin that section of the nature trail, said resident Tom Bernard, who suggested he might lie down on the pathway to impede construction if and when the bulldozers arrive.

Bernard, who collected 100 signatures on a petition opposing the new road in 2015, said he’s worried the road extension won’t end at Exmouth Street.

“That’s what’s frustrating,” he said.

A report to city council says staff plan to host a public information meeting early in 2018 to explain the overall Rapids Parkway Project.

The report makes it clear the trail rerouting won’t happen immediately.

The water and sewer extension beneath the highway would be done first, in 2018-19. The road extension would wait until the Ontario Transportation Ministry rehabilitates the bridge overpass above the trail, and that may not happen for another five years.

The project would be financed using funds collected from Rapids area developers as well as the capital budget. About $832,000 has already been banked.

The Bluewater Trails Committee said in a statement it is working with city staff to give trail users the best urban pathway possible, given other community needs.

“The objective will always be to have a trail separated from any adjacent roadway with some native green space. It is the Howard Watson Nature Trail, and as such there is a need to keep as much of the natural aspect as is possible.”