News Local

North Shore Trail vegetation plan takes root 0 

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 3:14:07 EDT PM


Barrie's North Shore Trail will eventually have windows onto Kempenfelt Bay.

City council approved a new vegetation plan Monday, to further thin tress and brush on the trail, which will be phased in during a two-year period.

Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth, who represents this part of Barrie, said the new plan is good for both North Shore Trail neighbours and those who use the pathway - a continuous, four-metre wide limestone trail built on the old CN Rail bed, from the bottom of Mulcaster Street to Barrie's eastern limit, at Penetanguishene Road.

"I am not talking about park beautification issues, I am talking about safety," she said. "Keeping the trail entirely natural in an urban setting is not good."

The new vegetation management plan includes removing all trees, branches and shrubs within one metre horizontally and 3.5 metres vertically from the trail's surface, and pruning of an additional two metres along the trail, removing dead, diseased or hazardous trees from the trail's vicinity, as well as non-native, invasive vegetation from the trail corridor and replanting ones native to this area. Existing views will be maintained, and more aggressive stump removal will be considered.

Council also approved having volunteer groups help maintain the pathway, under city staff supervision.

Only Couns. Barry Ward and Michael Prowse voted against the new vegetation plan.

Ward wanted the pruning and tree removal on the south side of the trail, nearest the bay, maintained at its current levels. He's concerned about the erosion between the trail and the water, and that the additional clearing was unnecessary.

Prowse said he didn't think the new plan would satisfy anyone.

"I don't think anybody is going to be happy, especially the neighbours of the North Shore Trail," he said. "I think they will be back in two years."

Prowse said 4,000 tress have already been cut along the trail, and only 1,000 replanted. He also said the city is setting a precedent for those living near other natural areas owned by the city.

"It's a new policy, that those who live in a location near city property will ask for additional services, which we cannot afford," he said.

Ward also pointed out that city forresters cannot keep up with branch trimming now, and that increasing service levels on the North Shore Trail will just make a bad situation worse.

"If we are going to do this work on the trail, we are going to miss something else," he said.

Al McNair of the Brereton Field Naturalists' Club made a deputation to council Monday and also argued against the new vegetation plan.

"BFNC believes the enhanced vegetation management plan will change the natural vegetative characteristics of the trail corridor and goes against the whole direction of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan," he said.

"We believe the increasing number of North Shore Trail users are voting with their feet. If they preferred a well-manicured pathway, they would not bother to proceed east to Mulcaster Street, but would stay on the multiple paved walkways and boardwalk, which the city provides around the majority of the Kempenfelt Bay shoreline," McNair said.

But area residents say the trail's vegetation growth obscures sight lines along the trail for users, and makes it difficult for neighbours to see onto the trail. Both are safety concerns, as is access because there are few entry and exit points.

Last year a survey showed that of 121 trail users, 90% supported opening up the view to and from the trail.

The annual budget for maintaining the trail is $33,500.