Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rural Trail Development: Letter to council

Dear Councillors,

Transportation for Liveable Communities is a working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster.
TLC's mandate is to advocate for and support local sustainable transportation initiatives promoting cycling, walking, transit as viable alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle use.

We understand that the City of Hamilton staff has spent considerable amount of time and tax payer money preparing the Hamilton Trails Master Plan and the Transportation Master Plan - Class Environmental Assessment (PW07022), both readily accessible on the useful City of Hamilton web site.

The documents have been presented after extensive public consultation, in which many TLC members have participated over the past few years.

We thus were surprised to learn that councillor Dave Mitchell, in the February 19 public works committee meeting, apparently brought about the premature demise of over 70 kilometres of proposed new multi-use trails from the Transportation Master Plan.

TLC desires to see the integrity of the public process already undertaken supported and not undermined by what, unfortunately, presents itself as personal fiat.

We do not dismiss Mr. Mitchell's concerns outright, but opt for a process that would provide necessary safeguards required by our valued local agricultural sector.

We could point to the pleasant experience of cycling through farm country along the wonderful Hamilton to Brantford rail trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail that links our community to a national network of trails, and is a highly valued tourist attraction.

We support careful evaluation of a trail designated for a specific hydro corridor, which we trust can readily be done via the 30-day public comment period. However, we strongly disagree with the sudden removal of 70 kilometres of new multi-use trails from the Transportation Master Plan. This elimination bluntly violates the principles underlying the plan.

In conclusion, we hope that councillor Mitchell will join us in seeking equitable solutions on the issue of rural trail development. There is a great deal of potential to increase quality of life for Hamiltonians and visitors to the city by having an integrated trail system that showcases the many facets of life in Hamilton, urban and rural alike.

With kind regards,

Reuven Dukas
for Transportation for Liveable Communities
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

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