Road will impact only short section of trail
Given the current public interest, and my involvement in the development of the Howard Watson Nature Trail (HWNT), I submit some history, which might help to clarify the controversy around the 402 – Overpass/Trail situation.
Many years ago, long before the HWNT, and shortly after the rail line was abandoned, which is now where the HWNT is located, the city bought the land around the 402-rail overpass with the explicit purpose, on some future day, to use this as a north-south link. That future has arrived.
In June 1988, Lambton Wildlife Inc. (LWI) signed an agreement with Clearwater (which soon after was amalgamated with Sarnia), for a three-year trial period, to manage the HWNT.
It was quickly realized that this concept was very popular, and the trail was then reclassified as a more permanent linear park. The important part here is that the original HWNT extended from Mandaumin road to Michigan Ave.
Somewhere around 1990 many residents, whose property abutted the abandoned rail line from Michigan to Exmouth, approached LWI with the request that their section be added to the then HWNT.
Both LWI and the city hall agreed with the idea. There was the clear understanding that at some point in the future the city would exercise its option to use the overpass.
Shortly after, because of public interest, the city decided to add the whole remaining abandoned rail line from Exmouth to Confederation to the trail concept. Gradually, LWI lessened its involvement in managing the trail and the city assumed more responsibility. Eventually LWI was only responsible for the annual trail clean up. But that too changed and recently the Lambton Outdoor Club (LOC) assumed responsibility for annual trail clean up.
For many years the city has done a commendable job in maintaining the trail; resurfacing, periodic cutting along the pathway, clearing of obstructing fallen trees, installing gates, and sponsoring a Bluewater Trails committee.
The city deserves a lot of credit for what has been done with the HWNT.
With respect to the overpass issue the city is perfectly within its rights to use it, and will do so for very good reasons.
Consider for example the dangerous traffic bottleneck that has developed in the Quinn Drive area (Home Depot to Walmart).
After some discussions with the engineering staff I am confident that the adverse impact on the trail will be minimized. Only a short part will be affected. After all that the city has done for the HWNT it’s time for us trail users to give back a bit.
Fern Noel helped develop the Howard Watson Nature Trail, is a member of the Lambton Outdoor Club and Lambton Wildlife Inc., and served on the Bluewater Trails Committee
Nature trail an irreplaceable asset
Sir: In an age where other cities are working hard to become more liveable by developing new walking, cycling and nature trails, Sarnia is still hell-bent on turning a section of the existing Nature Trail into a road.
By defining the “Nature Trail” as the three metre wide gravel path which currently runs down the centre of the 30 metre wide natural corridor, they have tried to convince us that the Nature Trail will still be intact. The fact is that the 30 m wide area, from just north of the 402 overpass to London Road, that we all think of as the Nature Trail today, will soon be a road with a gravel path off to one side. It will be busy and noisy with precious little “nature” remaining, and once the road is built, there is no turning back.
The claim is made that the city needs to sacrifice the Nature Trail and build this road in order to provide safe access for the traffic associated with the schools and houses to be built in that area, yet the city itself approved the housing density of that area and could have limited development to keep traffic within the limits of the other access points.
In fact, the Wiltshire subdivision is of similar size and it only has access from Murphy and Michigan, so why is this additional access needed at all?
The Nature Trail should be deemed untouchable, an irreplaceable asset with the highest level of protection, so it will always be there for future generations to enjoy.
Instead city council has decided to sacrifice it. Sarnia, the city that built a road over a Nature Trail – what a legacy to leave?
Peter R. Smith
Thank you, Jim Foubister
Sir: As president of the Sarnia Lambton Sunshine Foundation I would like to commend Jim Foubister for being our founder and say thank you.
Because of him, we have a chapter that’s now 25 years old and we have been able to deliver many dreams to special needs children and have chapters across Canada.
Jim has always assisted the average person and those in need, and has done a good job as a person and council member representing Sarnia and developing and promoting positives for the city of Sarnia.
Congratulations, Jim. You do deserve special recognition for all you’ve done over the year.
Thank you, from all you Sunshine friends locally and nationally.
Holes poked in Cloud Nine story
Sir: Re: the article On Cloud Nine
My wife remembers visiting her aunt and uncle on No. 9 Albert St. in St. Catharine’s Ont. approximately 77 years ago.
When I checked on Google it showed a two-storey house on 9 Albert St. Therefore, I take it that there could be more than one single-digit resident in Ontario.