South Bruce Peninsula council has decided not to make an appeal to Bruce County opposing the potential expansion of the West Road.
Mayor Janice Jackson says there are other ways to “deal with opposition” and an appeal process would cost taxpayers too much money. Her sentiment was opposed by councilor Craig Gammie, who implied that Town staff could make the appeal and that Bruce County’s reasoning’s are “very poorly grounded.”
Jackson says she anticipates that the appeal process will be undertaken by a group of residents, depending on the outcome of a county vote that would see and changes to the West Road.
Gammie says that staff should appeal the results of the pending environmental assessment (EA) for the road updates, that include widening from 66 feet to 100 feet and that designation of the road, as a local/collector road would affect the outcome “in a positive way.”
“[We should] stop before we end up spending $10 million,” said Jackson.
Jackson noted that she felt Gammie’s expectation that the County would only widen sections of the road, was “naïve.”
“There’s only one reason they want to widen,” said Jackson, suggesting the eventual development of a large-scale wind farm on the Bruce Peninsula.
Deputy Mayor Kirkland chimed in saying that the EA has not yet determined what kind of road the West Road would become in terms of width.
Council carried a resolution to acknowledge their refusal to submit an appeal and added a second resolution saying the West Road should be returned to the municipality.
In a recorded vote, Gammie and Kirkland voted no to the resolution, with councilors Ana Vukovic and Matt Jackson, as well as the Mayor voting ‘yes’ to its return.
Councillor Jackson says he voted in favour of bringing the West Road back to under the SBP umbrella because he campaigned openly about his opposition to wind turbines anywhere on the peninsula.
“I do think as a councilor, I have a responsibility to try to prevent wind development anywhere up the peninsula and I think that taking back the road ensures that the West Road is not widened and makes one more hurdle for those developers.”
Jackson says he doesn’t see the amount of traffic on the West Road as requiring the widening the County has proposed.
“It’s part of my legacy as a councilor,” said Jackson. “We live in a part of the world that’ we’re lucky to have. It’s very untouched, very undeveloped and very natural – as someone from a younger generation at this table, I’m certainly committed to making sure it’s protected for my generation and for the generations to come.”
Jackson says after talking with a number of municipal officials, councilors and mayors from south of the Bruce Peninsula, the sentiment from them suggests “you do everything you can to keep wind development out, because once they come there’s no stopping them.”
Jackson says there’s no backroom deal from the County that has wind turbines on their way, but his municipality has a “pretty good grassroots understanding” of the risks associated with widening the West Road.
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