Councillors give initial approval to measures for North Shore Trail
By BOB BRUTON Barrie Examiner September 17 2010
North Shore Trail neighbours could soon play a bigger part in its management.
Barrie councillors have given initial approval to a series of measures, involving neighbours, to deal with safety, access and vegetation issues on the three-kilometre trail – which runs from Bayview Park along the shores of Kempenfelt Bay to the city limits.
“(It) is as heavily used as any waterfront park in the city. Many, many people use it on a daily basis,” said Coun. Mike Ramsay, who represents this area. “It needs a much higher level of service.”
Ramsay’s motion that there be a public consultation process on the trail’s vegetation management plan – to determine whether its adequate for safety, access and general enjoyment of the trail – while balancing its natural elements, was approved Monday.
“We all love to have trees and nature, but it (the current vegetation management plan) is not working. We need to do more to enhance safety,” Ramsay said. “We need a more permanent solution.”
Neighbours say vegetation growth obscures sight lines along the trail for users, and makes it difficult for neighbours to see onto the trail. Both are safety concerns, as is access because there are few entry and exit points.
Last summer a 45-year-old woman was knocked down from behind, kicked in the head and had more than $1,000 taken from her purse.
“It becomes a haven for behaviour we would rather not see,” said Coun. Rod Jackson.
“There’s no use developing a trail that is not going to be safe,” said Mayor Dave Aspden.
Only Coun. Barry Ward argued against Ramsay’s plan, saying an extensive public consultation process led to the current plan for dealing with trees, bushes, shrubs and other greenery.
“It’s been less than two years since we put the vegetation management plan in place,” he said. “The whole idea was that the trail was to be left in a natural state.”
Last week the city’s community services committee invited residents to its meeting, to have an open and frank discussion about the trail – including some of the concerns that residents have, and to look at potential opportunities to improve the trail from a safety and vegetation management perspective.
Coun. John Brassard, committee chairman, has said residents who live near the North Shore Trail told community services that the city’s plans don’t go far enough.
And a survey showed that of 121 trail users, 90% supported opening up the view to and from the trail.
The plan also includes a progress update to residents about the north shore master plan and investigating opportunities for funding partnerships for the North Shore Trail.
A year ago after a tour by city staff and police, a schedule of work and a list of goals was set for the stonedust, multi-use trail which runs on the former train corridor. Part of the plan was to improve sight lines and security for pedestrians on the trail, which were obscured by trees and bush.
Aside from general maintenance, the city has been working to remove all trees, branches and shrubs within one metre on both sides of the trail and 2.5 metres above it.
Dead, diseased or hazardous trees are to be removed from the trail’s vicinity, and all non-native, invasive vegetation from the trail corridor is to be taken away.
Native plants are to replace it, and vegetation along the trail adjacent to Bayview Park is to be removed, to increase sight lines and take away potential hiding spots. Greenery along the top slope of Kempenfelt Park is also to be trimmed down to improve sight lines to the trail.
When the boathouses along the North Shore Trail were removed, the city took out the crossovers, the steps between the sidewalk and the trail. Some were old, in disrepair and not to code – but steep, dirt paths for getting up and down didn’t help access.
City staff are developing a plan to stabilize and naturalize areas affected by the boat house removals. This will include additional trail connections from Kempenfelt Drive.