Jes­sup’s Falls is­sue re­turns to coun­ties coun­cil

Vision (Canada) - - News - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­lain@eap.on.ca

The fu­ture for the Jes­sup’s Falls Es­carp­ment re­tur­ned once more to the coun­ties coun­cil table for dis­cus­sion. Whe­ther or not it will be the last time is unk­nown.

The is­sue sur­roun­ding the fu­ture for the area came up fol­lo­wing a brief re­port to coun­ties coun­cil du­ring its March 23 ses­sion about the current Al­gon­quin land claims is­sue for Eas­tern On­ta­rio. Coun­ties staff and re­pre­sen­ta­tives on the mu­ni­ci­pal land claims com­mit­tee set up as part of the set­tle­ment pro­cess have de­ter­mi­ned that there are no areas in the Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cottRus­sell (UCPR) which fall un­der the land claims pe­ti­tion.

Al­fred-Plantagenet Town­ship Mayor Fer­nand Dicaire then brought up the pen­ding pos­sible ap­peal by a pri­vate ci­ti­zens group to the On­ta­rio Mu­ni­ci­pal Board (OMB) over the pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment’s de­ci­sion to al­low the ag­gre­gate re­source des­crip­tion for the Jes­sup’s Falls Es­carp­ment to re­main as part of the Of­fi­cial Plan (OP) for the Pres­cott-Rus­sell. This was de­ci­ded contra­ry to a de­ci­sion of the UCPR coun­cil to re­move the de­si­gna­tion out of concern for the fra­gile karst geo­lo­gi­cal for­ma­tion wi­thin the area and the po­ten­tial im­pact on the ground­wa­ter wells of near­by lan­dow­ners if the area was ever de­ve­lo­ped for any light in­dus­trial pur­pose.

“The ques­tion is of risk,” said Dicaire, ar­guing that the ap­peal to the OMB should not just fo­cus on the unique geo­lo­gi­cal fea­ture of the area. “This is a zone which is fra­gile.”

The UCPR de­ci­sion to re­move the ag­gre­gate re­sources de­si­gna­tion from the es­carp­ment area scut­tled a lo­cal de­ve­lo­per’s plan to build an as­phalt plant in the es­carp­ment area. The pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment’s de­ci­sion to over­turn the coun­ties coun­cil’s de­ci­sion reo­pens the is­sue of the es­carp­ment’s in­dus­trial de­ve­lop­ment po­ten­tial.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate, but it’s done,” said Dicaire.

Mayor Dicaire no­ted that the coun­ties is res­pon­sible for main­te­nance of Coun­ty Road 17 which runs past the es­carp­ment and the site pro­po­sed for the as­phalt plant pro­ject. He ex­pres­sed concern about the UCPR’s res­pon­si­bi­li­ty for main­tai­ning the road, with em­pha­sis on win­ter snow re­mo­val, to deal with the pos­si­bi­li­ty of re­gu­lar hea­vy truck traf­fic going in and out of the es­carp­ment area if an as­phalt plant or other type of de­ve­lop­ment were al­lo­wed.

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