ERIN/HILLSBURGH ‒ Some Erin residents neighbouring the Elora Cataract Trailway are concerned about how sewer main construction will impact the environment sitting just outside their backyards.
Leah-Anne Goyeau, a member of the Erin-Hillsburgh Turtle Guardians, specifically has questions about how many trees will be removed and what wildlife will be disturbed by the construction.
“People are going to need to start planting or fencing or whatever they need to do because they're going to lose a lot of privacy on the trail when the trees are removed,” said Goyeau. “It's also going to mean that the wildlife living along the trail will have to go somewhere, so you might end up with more wildlife encounters on people's properties.”
Goyeau also believes that there hasn’t been enough public engagement allowed on the topic before action was proposed.
“I understand from the perspective that the least amount of pipe is going to have the least amount of cost so the trail acts as a shortcut,” said Goyeau. “But at the end of this, if they're going to grow the urban centres, (it feels like) at some point both those segments of road will need pipe anyways.”
Goyeau feels that closing the trail will also lead to more bikes on the road, people moving in further up the trail, and students detouring from their school routes which will cause “a disconnect.”
“You know, it took decades to plant this natural habitat and then they're gonna come and just wipe that out and start all over again,” said Goyeau. “I guess I just wonder, (since) the trail is a big area for recreation if it's gonna cut off a major segment between Erin and Hillsburgh for a period of time.”
The trail will be closed for the duration of tree removal and sewer construction which is anticipated to cause “delays and increased truck traffic, dirt on roads, dust and noise.”
However, the town, along with the contractor, say they “will make every effort to minimize their impacts to the community.”
“(Erin) is currently working on the exact number of trees to be removed,” said the township of Erin in a statement over email. “(The town), in collaboration with Credit Valley Conservation, will take every step to reduce the impact and restore and enhance the area once construction is complete.”
According to the Erin wastewater website, traffic on roads at the trail intersections may temporarily be reduced to one lane during the construction period but access for emergency vehicles and pedestrians will be maintained at all times.
“I just feel like that's an awful lot of damage to undergo just to create a disconnect between the two communities,” said Goyeau. “Do I think they can fully restore the trail? Probably. But is it going to take another 30 or 40 years for that to take shape?”
In an email statement, Credit Valley Conservation said they are working with the town to “explore options” and “reduce the impacts from the linear work construction to the greatest extent feasible.”
“The environmental assessment, led by the town, was an external process that identified the Elora Cataract Trailway as the preferred location for a portion of the linear works,” said the statement. “The town has been fully committed to restoring, enhancing, and offsetting for any environmental impacts related to the construction of the linear works.”
Construction is set to start in August 2023 for 14 months.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.