The current leadership of Haldimand County has been recklessly determined to build the Cayuga Bridge Trail come hell or high water. Over the weekend the high water came, and it washed out several sections of the supposedly $1.4 million trail, ensuring that the price tag will go up once more.
The trail has been controversial from the start. The original proposal for a $2 million dollar trail was deemed too expensive, so it had to be pared down and presented to council a second time before it was approved.
Then someone made off with the railway ballast stone that was to be the foundation for the trail. The greenery along both sides that was to make the trail attractive was also bulldozed. Both these developments would obviously lead to increased costs, but Haldimand County decided to proceed without even adjusting the budget.
Finally, it became apparent that the trail design would not meet the accessibility requirements that became law in Ontario on January 1 of this year. That didn’t stop Haldimand County staff and council, either. They chose to gamble on the law having no teeth and carried on.
Today they may be wondering about the wisdom of that last choice. By refusing to reconfigure the steep slopes that make the trail inaccessible to the disabled, they also guaranteed that the first heavy rains would wash out the overly-steep trail and its overly-steep access road. This is what happened in several places during the weekend, along with a mud slide that covers much of the newly-built parking area.
The entire history of this trail project needs to be investigated, and the reason why the county was so determined to build it in spite of all obstacles needs to be discovered and made public.
The true cost also needs to be established, and anyone who engaged in wrong-doing or poor judgement needs to be held accountable. Council owes that to the citizens whose public dollars have just been flushed away in a manner that was completely predictable.
David McClung, Cayuga