Letters, week of Dec. 24

Building road over trail a poor compromise

Sir: I am sincerely grateful to Fern Noel, city staff and other community minded volunteers who, in past years, worked to create the Howard Watson nature trail. Sarnia is such a great place to live because of its special assets — Canatara Park, Centennial Park, the river front, the lake, and yes, our beloved trail.

Respectfully, though, I don’t agree with Mr. Noel’s conclusions about the Rapids Parkway extension.  A paved path next to a busy road is very different from what is out there currently. Presently we have a genuine island of natural habitat – rabbits, squirrels, birds, mature trees and rushes. The trail corridor is about 100-feet wide and busy roads are a ‘decent’ distance away. The trail is an asset; the parkway extension is not.

The rationale for severely compromising this part of the trail just doesn’t flow. We apparently need to do this because of a “clear understanding” back in 1990. Whose understanding? What was it based on?

The traffic situation in this area is very different than it was in 1990. Much of the traffic from the parkway will finish up on Exmouth Street, which already has three out of the top eight worst intersections in Sarnia for collisions.

In future designs, we should be working to exclude traffic that does not have business in this area from just passing through.

Mr. Noel suggests that trail users should cooperate with ‘the city,’ which leaves me wondering who that is?

I live here, own property and pay taxes here. If I cooperate with myself the trail stays as is.  Area designations such as ‘park’ vs. ‘not park’ should not be compelling if they lead us to poor quality compromises.

A few weeks ago my wife and I hiked on an urban trail in England, which meanders through the suburbs of London. We were impressed by the care that was exercised by authorities and users.

Failing to scoop costs you 75 pounds, and pet hygiene stations are frequently available. Litter is rare, signage is excellent, and, in an environment where land values provide huge incentives to encroach on natural areas, the green has been protected.

It was a good place to pick up a few tips on what’s important!

Andrew Brennek

Sarnia