Condo builder, city OK with fencing along rail trail
A seemingly mysterious fence going up along the Escarpment Rail Trail near Wentworth Street South has created a stir among trail users and had portions ripped out by vandals this week.
The chain link fence however, is necessary for everyone’s safety as construction starts on a large condo development approved three years ago near the trail.
The developer, Ron Van Kleef, and ward Councillor Jason Farr, say the fence is a city requirement under its construction management plan and its site plan approvals and is necessary to keep people out of danger.
The Vista Condos project of 150 condo suites in three buildings, was approved by the city in 2014, for 467 Charlton Ave. E., situated south of the trail and up against the escarpment just as Wentworth changes to Charlton and heads west. The plan overcame a challenge by the Niagara Escarpment Commission in 2015, and is now ready to start.
“There’s a lot of chatter,” Farr said in reference to Facebook conversations wondering about the fence, adding he can understand why. “It’s been some time since the (development) approval, and suddenly a fence appears.”
He and Van Kleef said signs will soon go up along the roughly 280metre section of the fence adjacent to the trail explaining why the fence has been erected.
Linda Lukasik of Environment Hamilton and one of the original opponents of the development, was part of the Facebook conversation. Lukasik says people did not know the fence was put up because construction was starting on adjacent property.
“It suddenly goes up and everyone was wondering,” she said.
The fence, right along the edge of the trail, has also raised eyebrows with people wondering just how close the development was going to be to the trail and whether the positioning of the fence means the many trees and vegetation along it will be cleared, she added.
“Can you imagine? It’s a beautiful spot. There should have been open and transparent communication with the public (on what is happening).”
Van Kleef said there will be no clearing along the trail. Both he and Farr said the development property does not extend to the fence along the trail, but the topography of the property — dips and rolls and peaks — in the area made putting a fence directly on the property line next to impossible.
He said he’s not surprised the fence was torn down there because vagrants, drug users and others who want to explore further, have gone off trail onto his property in that area. He’s had to call the health department because of all the discarded needles. “We have security now patrolling the property,” he said, adding this includes the fence line.