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Province asks Clearview Township for more details on 26/27 Sideroad upgrade plan

In Clearview
Oct 15th, 2021
Construction crews work at upgrades to Clearview Township’s Conc. 10 at the 26/27 Sideroad. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has also asked for more information about the township’s plans to upgrade the sideroad to year-round use.

From The Toronto Star, October 11, 2021
By Ian Adams

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is asking for more information from Clearview Township on its plans for 26/27 Sideroad, and is suggesting the project may require a higher level of environmental scrutiny.

According to an Oct. 4 letter from Environmental Assessment Branch director Kathleen O’Neill to Mayor Doug Measures, and provided to Simcoe.com, the ministry is asking for updated information related to estimated project costs and expected traffic.

Clearview intends to upgrade the sideroad for year-round use as part of an overall redevelopment of the roads network in the western part of the township. The upgrade is tied to the eventual handover of a section of County Road 91 west of Duntroon to Walker Aggregates, which would then close the road to through traffic.

Those plans are the subject of an environmental review tribunal hearing in November, during which the township hopes to overturn a Niagara Escarpment Commission decision denying a development permit for the project.

The request from the ministry could mean a reversal in its position, which — in previous correspondence from Environment, Conservation and Parks Minister Jeff Yurek — had determined the environmental assessment process undertaken by the municipality had been appropriate.

In a letter from May 2020, Yurek said the township could proceed with plans to improve Sideroad 26/27 and make it a year-round road as a Schedule A+ project under the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process.

That means the project would be considered limited in scale, with minimal adverse environmental effects, and would not have any study requirements under the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process.

However, in the correspondence from O’Neill, the ministry has since been provided additional information that “may indicate the project is not properly classified as a Schedule A+ and therefore not exempt from the (Environmental Assessment Act).”

O’Neill’s letter stated the ministry received information the project may exceed the $4-million threshold for a Schedule A+ assessment, along with information on “historical traffic levels on County Road 91 that indicates a potential significant increase in traffic for the proposed project once County Road 91 is closed.”

The ministry asked for the new information to be provided by Nov. 5 for review.

The township’s chief administrative officer, John Ferguson, in response to a series of questions from Simcoe.com, indicated the municipality would be responding to the ministry — and would forward its response to Simcoe.com once it was prepared.

See the original article here

Shocked and disappointed: Clearview responds to province’s 11th-hour ask for 26/27 Sideroad info

Clearview Township has laid the gauntlet down to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, telling the province that a request for more information on its 26/27 Sideroad project on the eve of a tribunal hearing on the subject is both shocking and disappointing.

On Oct. 4, environmental assessment branch director Kathleen O’Neill asked the township for more information on the project in order to determine if it required a higher level of environmental scrutiny.

In his four-page response issued on Oct. 12, the township’s chief administrative officer John Ferguson indicated the arrival of O’Neill’s letter was a “great shock” to municipal officials, and would appear to have been prompted by “misleading and irrelevant ‘new information’ ” provided to the ministry.

Ferguson told O’Neill that the ministry, and Minister Jeff Yurek, has already indicated — at several junctures over the last couple of years — that the Schedule A+ environmental assessment process followed by the municipality was appropriate.

“To be clear, there have been no changes to the scope or design of the project since the ministry confirmed the project as a proper Schedule A+ undertaking,” Ferguson wrote in the letter, which was also provided to Simcoe.com by the municipality. “Any changes to the ministry’s position will cause serious economic damages to the township and will be resisted with vigour.”

Ferguson pointed out the upcoming environmental review tribunal, in which the township will make its case to overturn a Niagara Escarpment Commission decision denying the municipality a development permit for the sideroad reconstruction, begins in a few weeks’ time.

An intervention by the ministry at this late date is “disappointing,” he wrote.

While O’Neill had asked for updated information related to estimated project costs and expected traffic, Ferguson countered that a project cost is irrelevant to its classification and there is no monetary threshold associated with Schedule A+ works.

There has also been no change in the purpose, use, capacity or location of the project since it was endorsed by the Joint Board as part of the approval for Walker Aggregates to expand its operations west of Duntroon in 2012, he added.

“As we have explained in earlier correspondence with your ministry, the road will be reconstructed on the same alignment within the existing (right-of-way), will continue to serve vehicular traffic and the travelling public and will be built to the Township of Clearview’s minimum standard for a rural cross section road,” Ferguson stated.

He added: “With respect, a clear and fair reading of the Class (environmental assessment) should never consider improvements that serve only to bring a road up to the minimum standards for that type of road as a ‘change in the purpose, use or capacity’ of the road.”

The municipality maintains that reconstruction of the road to year-round use — as part of the overall improvements to the area road network that also includes closing a section of County Road 91 — is in the interest of public safety and would improve the surrounding environmental conditions.

Ferguson asked O’Neill for a response by Oct. 22 so that the township can continue to prepare for the upcoming hearing.

See the article here

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