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Niagara Falls
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Letter: Council should reverse course on heritage trail decision
Letter to the editor.

This is an open letter to NOTL town council about its offer of an easement over the Upper Canada Heritage Trail to allow access to the proposed subdivision on the Rand Estate.

The developer’s current proposal does not contemplate an easement, nor was the possibility of an easement raised by council, staff, nor the multitude of experts offering their considered opinions during the public special session of council on April 24, 2023.

It is concerning that council would make an unsolicited offer that fundamentally alters the nature and use of the trail without prior public consultation and without regard for the interests of:

  • The adjacent homeowners who will be directly, negatively impacted by such an easement.
  • The residents and businesses that donated money and the volunteers who donated time, to create a recreational heritage trail where vehicular traffic is prohibited.
  • The public of all ages who use this trail because it is a rare safe space, free from vehicular traffic.

Through a related company, the developer can provide access to the proposed subdivision through the historical John Street entrance, between 144 and 176 John St.

Yes, there is a significant financial cost of providing this access, but that is part of the lucrative business of property development.

The town’s offer of an easement on the trail to permit vehicular access amounts to “corporate welfare” that is not required; will lower the property values and the use and enjoyment of adjacent property owners; is a betrayal of trail donors whose money was collected by the town in trust for a specific purpose, which will be breached if the easement is granted; and disregards the safety of trail users.

It is troubling that council decided to offer a massive financial benefit to the developer without receiving anything for the town in exchange, not even the resolution of the costly contested development application.

As an experienced dispute resolution professional, the offer is bizarre, to say the least.

I call upon council to immediately revoke the town’s offer of an easement, before it is accepted, and before the town’s legal counsel files or appears before the Ontario Land Tribunal on this property.

Kathryn Podrebarac

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