by David McClung

In the middle of page 1-L2 of a Haldimand County draft design for the Cayuga Bridge Rail Trail dated April 19, 2017 is a heavy black dotted line labelled “Future Accessible Trail (Conceptual Route Only).”

This seems like a pretty clear admission that what Haldimand County staff intend to build in 2018 ― past the deadline for making all new municipal recreational facilities accessible ― is not accessible, but that an accessible route has been identified for future development.

I therefore contacted all Haldimand councillors asking them to raise this issue at their Oct. 10, 2017 Council meeting. I warned them, “ I can guarantee that if you give staff final approval to build the non-accessible trail head, a complaint will be laid the very day of the ribbon-cutting, and the County will be forced either to close the $1+ million dollar trail it just built, or else to construct the accessible entrance shown on page 1-L2 in addition to the non-accessible trail head that it just built with borrowed money.”

So, I asked them, “why not just build the accessible entrance in the first place? It will work for everybody, and council can save the money staff is currently planning to waste on the non-accessible one.”

I also raised another issue that I thought the councillors should look into. Staff were insisting that Haldimand County’s Accessibility Advisory Committee was satisfied that the trail design met the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Yet the one member of this committee that I am acquainted with told me that neither this trail nor any other has ever been discussed by that committee.

Despite these two issues, that both had the very real potential to result in significant unbudgeted expenditures if the Council proceeded with the Cayuga Bridge Rail Trail as staff were presenting it to them on October 10, 2017, the councillors approved it without batting an eye.

Recently we have seen a number of Ward 2 CVF projects being promoted and approved without public input or buy-in, and sometimes even in spite of strong public opposition. The Cayuga Bridge Rail Trail as unanimously approved by Haldimand Council in October of 2017 is just one more example of this pattern.