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Unique ad-hoc committee ready for council approval to move forward on Millennium Trail rehabilitation

Volunteers under a unique ad-hoc committee could be taking over the rehabilitation of the Millennium Trail, cancelling an over-budget tender.

Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley said establishment of an ad-hoc committee could bring the project closer to fruition.

McAuley said the group has already demonstrated it can put an equal number of kilometres together at a substantially reduced cost compared to what tenders have demonstrated.

“The intent of this group is not a conventional (recommendation role) ad-hoc committee,” said McAuley, but the ad-hoc route helps make the project move forward – providing certain protections and tools to assist such as liability insurance protection, workers’ compensation, the ability to use volunteers in an organized manner and not be constrained with bureaucracy and red tape. “The intent of this committee is to get it done.”

McAuley said that if the project works well under this unique ad-hoc committee, it could blaze a trail for future projects to be undertaken by volunteers.

“If it succeeds it may the new mechanism by which we are able to engage volunteers and get works done much more cost-effectively.”

Barry Davidson, founder of the PEC Trails Committee, said the trail’s first upgrade, spearheaded by the Wellington Rotary in 2012, was an 11km portion completed over three years from Highway 33 to Danforth.

“Residents and visitors to Wellington have had a lot of pleasure and use of trail and it hasn’t required any touch up since then,” he said. “When tenders were issued last fall and this spring, the lowest bids were far higher than the budget numbers and much higher than the cost that I incurred doing the Rotary project, even allowing for inflation, and are not acceptable in my mind.”

The lowest tender from Cooney Excavating came in at $285,000 which would allow completion of 10.6 kilometres. The per kilometre rate at $26,760 was well above staff estimates based on the Wellington Rotary project at $14,500 per km.

About 42kms need to be completed.

Davidson volunteered to continue the project as was done on the Wellington portion – from Wellington to Picton as a start, then the rest of the trail following, hopefully, next year.

Council approved budgeting $370,000 from 2017-19 for upgrades to the rest of the trail and the PEC Trails Committee since raised $120,0000.

The group is ready to put shovels in the ground. Members of the ad-hoc committee would include Davidson, Amy Bodman, Vincent de Tourdonnet and Patrick Maloney.

The establishment of the committee goes to council for final approval later this month.

Maloney, who has extensive experience from working with several trail projects in the province, is current chair of the PEC Trails Committee and member of the steering committee.

He said support from businesses has been exceptional and movement forward on the trail is wanted. He noted there are some 500 people on the Friends of Millennium Trail mailing list who would be invited to a party surrounding the first shovel in the ground.

He also noted great relationships with the County snowmobile group that grooms the trail in winter; with naturalists, walking and running clubs, as well as cyclists. He also said there is hope there will be some grant money from the Ontario government provided they don’t get cancelled.

Councillor Steve Ferguson asked about the two kilometers of “eco passages” in the initial plan. Davidson noted that while the current focus would be on grading, levelling and compacting, the eco passages are not off the table.

“We’re going to have to design what happens there and bring in some experts,” he said. “We want to make it friendly for the animals that live there, and for the people who come to see them.” He said it would be a special project within the project, working with Quinte Conservation as two wetlands along the trail are Provincially Significant.

Vincent de Tourdonnet, vice-president with the trails committee, said the group is proud and pleased to have Davidson lead the charge as he did with Rotary, which, he said, will end up saving money and help people get from one community to another.

“Last spring during trash bash we had 40-50 people come out. We’re a group of people who can make this happen and we’re proud and pleased to have support to make this happen for the community.”

Acquired by the County from the Canadian National Railway in 1997, the trail is a re-purposed 53km rail line that was converted into a multi-use trail from Carrying Place at County Road 64, to Picton, at County Road 49 and passing through Consecon, Wellington and Bloomfield.

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  1. Susan says:

    How does that work, with trails right in front of property owners waterfront? I don’t see how you would have access. Who would pay for such an enormous undertaking if at all possible?

  2. Ian says:

    It would be great if PEC established a shoreline walking trail, right around the county. Such trails are great successes in places like Devon and Cornwall, England.

  3. Gary Mooney says:

    An excellent initiative on the part of the Trail committee.

    Kudos to Commissioner McAuley for his support and for suggesting that a volunteer approach could be used for other projects in future.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    This sounds like a great idea – will citizens be allowed to volunteer to become part of the work crew? Will there be more info made available at a later date?

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