Condo builder, city OK with fenc­ing along rail trail

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

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.

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