Land trust concerned about proposed snowmobile trail
The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust has concerns about a snowmobile trail the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association is proposing along an unopened township-owned road allowance in Minden Hills, a road allowance that abuts one of the land trust’s properties.
In November, a public meeting in Minden Hills council chambers drew a number of residents concerned about snowmobile trails the association was proposing on four unopened road allowances. Ultimately, council approved the use of one, and deferred discussion on the other three until further information was received from the association addressing residents’ concerns, which included issues of trespassing, liability, noise, etc.
Land trust chairwoman Mary Lou Gerstl and Sheila Ziman, secretary for and a founding member of the land trust, visited Minden Hills councillors during their Jan. 24 meeting. One of the proposed trails would use a 0.4-kilometre road allowance in the former Snowdon township between the hydro corridor and Kendrick Creek Lane, this road allowance running along the northern border of the Fred and Pearl Barry Wetland Reserve, one of the properties owned by the land trust.
“The land trust has a responsibility to protect all our properties,” Ziman told councillors, explaining that responsibility is governed by a series of laws. “”If we don’t protect that property . . . the land trust is subject to a fine of 50 per cent of the assessed value of that property. So this a very serious situation for us.”
Among the trust’s concerns are that the wetland is hibernation habitat for the Blanding’s turtle, a threatened species. While a full ecological assessment of the property has not been performed, “it would qualify as a provincially significant wetland because the Blanding’s turtle has been found on the property,” Ziman said.
She went on to note that the Minden Hills official plan contains a section that indicates development shall not be permitted in an area that is a significant habitat area for a threatened or endangered species.
“This is a violation of your official plan,” Ziman said.
Also of issue to the land trust is a plan to use gravel fill in the construction of a trail, which Ziman said would amount to loss of wetland and contended would also violate the township’s official plan. Another concern would be the proposed installation of four culverts which Ziman said would alter the flow of water on the property, and another was potential trespassing by snowmobiles on the land trust property, where motorized vehicles are not permitted.
“We have no objection to the trail itself, but rather where it is put, and how it is built,” Ziman said.
“We hope there can be a solution that fits all parties involved,” Gerstl told councillors.
Mayor Brent Devolin thanked Gerstl and Ziman for their presentation, and indicated that council is taking all concerns into account.
“We’re not in a hurry, we’re going to do this right,” Devolin said.