Jessup’s Falls issue returns to counties council
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.