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Impact of paths on Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA)

October 12, 2009

For more information on why the proposed pathway is of great concern, see a presentation by Professor Greg Thorn of the University of Western Ontario made to a city council committee on Sept. 14, 2009 explaining the impact of paths on an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) such as the Medway Valley.

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City-led Meeting

October 1, 2009

The City of London held a meeting on the proposed path and bridge in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest on September 29, 2009. Over 175 people attended the meeting. The session was chaired by Councillors Nancy Branscomb and Walter Lonc. Following presentations by city staff and consultants, a number of people raised questions and concerns about the proposed project.

Medway Valley, Sept. 2009

Medway Valley, Sept. 2009

An informational flyer distributed at the meeting is available.

Transport Canada is still accepting comments from the public on this project. Contact

Monique Mousseau
Regional Manager
Transport Canada
4900 Yonge St.
North York ON M2N 6A5
Telephone: 416-952-0485
Fax: 416-952-0514
Email: moussem@tc.gc.ca
and refer to CEAR reference number 08-01-36927

City staff is also taking comments for a report it will prepare for city council. Comments should be sent to Jeff Bruin (Email: jbruin@london.ca )

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Preserve the Medway Valley Heritage Forest: an update on the proposed Paved Pathway and Bridge

August 28, 2009

The City of London has scheduled a meeting on the proposed 3-meter wide path and bridge.

Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Kingsmill Room at Huron University College

The tentative agenda is for the City to give a presentation outlining the project’s history, planning, comments received, etc. Following the presentation, the City will address questions/comments.

The meeting is open to all.

Similar plans are in process for other environmentally significant areas in London. Please come and show your support for maintaining London’s environment.

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Preserve the Medway Valley Heritage Forest: an update on the proposed Paved Pathway and Bridge

June 29, 2009

The City of London’s Parks Planning and Design Section has recommended constructing a paved 3.0 meter (approx. 10 feet) wide pathway through the Medway Valley Heritage Forest, a natural area designated as an “Environmentally Significant Area.” This paved path would link the east end of Gainsborough Road to the western portion of Windermere Road through the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate. This pathway linkage includes a bridge that will span the Medway Creek.

The City of London has proposed to hold a meeting/Open House on September 29, 2009. More details to follow.

A UWO journalism student, Amy Barrington, has created a documentary on the proposed project.

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Preserve the Medway Valley Heritage Forest: Stop the proposed Paved Pathway and Bridge

June 7, 2009

The Medway Valley is one of 16 natural areas currently designated as “Environmentally Significant Areas” or ESAs in the City of London, Ontario. These areas represent a variety of habitats, including upland forests, wetlands and river corridors. The ESAs are an integral part of London’s proposed Natural Heritage System connecting parks, valley lands and other open spaces.

The valley has a diversity of ecosystems and many Carolinian species of plants which normally would be found in more southern regions.

Jack-in-the-pulpit, Medway Valley

What is the City of London Proposing?

The City of London’s Parks Planning and Design Section has recommended constructing a paved 3.0 meter (approx. 10 feet) wide pathway which would link the east end of Gainsborough Road to the western portion of Windermere Road through the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate. This pathway linkage includes a bridge that will span the Medway Creek below the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate.

The City’s Concept

According to City staff, the purpose of the project is “to provide a neighbourhood and City-wide multi-use linkage that allows a wide array of users to experience and move across the Medway Valley/Creek in an environmentally responsible fashion.” By providing a single linkage across this portion of the valley, the City will be in a better position to address ongoing environmental pressures in surrounding more sensitive areas of the valley.

Among others, hiking, walking, running, cycling and in-line skating are examples of passive recreational activities that are permitted along the City’s multi-use pathway system. These types of multi-use pathways are not intended for vehicular use.

However, the path would be used by construction and maintenance vehicles.

The City’s plan is posted at: http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Parks_and_Natural_Areas/MedwayValleyBridge.htm

How Big is a 3-Meter Path?

3-meters is as wide as a lane at one of the  busiest intersections in London.

3metre-car-lane-at-richmond-fanshawe

or, another way to look at this,

3metre-plus-2foot-clearings

3-meters is wide enough for  a tractor-trailer.

Does this really belong in an environmentally-sensitive area?

Neighborhood Concerns

The Orchard Park / Sherwood Forest Ratepayers (Lower Medway Ratepayers Inc) have voiced a number of concerns regarding this project:

  • City staff did not even contact the neighborhood to tell them this project was planned.
  • The plan is contrary to the recommendation in the 1996 site plan adopted by City Council specified that large structures were inappropriate was never rescinded by Council.
  • The Medway Valley is a natural area, not a managed park, and should not be treated as a park
  • Residents enjoy the undisturbed nature of the Valley, and are concerned about the impact on plants and animals
  • Residents are concerned about a potential increase in environmental degradation caused by bringing more people into the valley
  • City staff have asserted that the construction of the path would reduce the impact of pedestrians bicycles through the valley, but have not presented any evidence to back this assertion
  • City staff have asserted that the pathway is mandated to provide access to residents with disabilities; however, there is no requirement to construct a path and bridge to provide accessibility, only that any construction must be built to city standards that accommodate those with mobility disabilities.
  • Although a rationale for the construction of the path is that it would enable cyclists to more easily travel to the University of Western Ontario, there does not appear to have been consultation with commuters, nor does the plan take into account existing cycling routes to the University
  • Due to construction and maintenance requirements, the construction of a 3-meter path would likely require additional clearance of trees and bushes for at least another meter on each side
  • In a time of financial constraints, it is unclear why the City is so eager to spend taxpayers funds on a project which is not supported by many residents

Some local residents have expressed support for the project:

  • A paved path will be good for disabled residents of the neighbourhood
  • It will be used by children and families with strollers
  • It will be good to have access to the other side


Medway Valley, London ON

Why is the City of London rushing this project?

The Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers noted that the Medway Valley Master Plan was due to be reviewed in 2012, and suggested that development or construction of any pathway and bridge be deferred for discussion as part of the Plan update. City staff rejected this proposal when it was brought to them by Councillor Nancy Branscombe.

Current status of the project

The proposed path and bridge over the Medway Creek has been delayed pending meetings between the city,  the neighbourhoods, and those that have been promoting this project.  There is still a commitment by the City to hold a public meeting under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

In February 2009, London City Council passed the following two motions at its Committee of the Whole meeting on the budget.

  • The money allocated for the path over the Medway Valley not be released until the controversial issue is resolved.
  • It will have to come back to the Board of Control.

Notwithstanding the hold on funds for the project, the city has moved forward with the requirements as set out by Transport Canada and the Federal Environmental Assessment process. Further, the City’s website lists the project as proceding in 2010.

For more information:

Upper Thames River Conservation Authority – description of the Medway Valley Heritage Forest:

http://www.thamesriver.on.ca/Wetlands_and_Natural_Areas/medway.htm

City of London:

http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Parks_and_Natural_Areas/MedwayValleyBridge.htm

Orchard Park Sherwood Forest Ratepayers: http://www.orchardparksherwoodforestratepayers.ca/?page=home

Councillor Nancy Branscombe: http://www.nanbran.com/images/stories/power-point/Medway.pdf

and

http://www.nanbran.com/images/stories/power-point/city-hall-2009-Medway%20Presentation.pdf

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