Merrickville Estates was on the agenda again at the last council meeting, as council had to decide on two requests made by developer Chuck Fournier at the first meeting of the new year. Chuck had requested that the Municipality look after ploughing the streets in phase three of the development, and also put the paving of 950m of HF McLean Road into the 2019 budget.
Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron seemed to think looking after ploughing the roads in phase three was a good investment, as it would allow people better access to the walking trail along Cedar Hill Road and Scotch Line Road. “It will eliminate congestion,” he said at the council meeting.
Councillor Bob Foster was against the idea of taking over ploughing that section of road, since it is not a road that the municipality currently owns. He believes that taking over ploughing the road now, before the Village formally owns it, opens up too much liability for the municipality. Councillor Timothy Molloy agreed. “Not to downplay the benefit of Merrickville Estates, but to start working on a road that we don’t own puts us in peril,” he said at the meeting.
The rest of council agreed with Councillors Foster and Molloy, and it was decided that the council would not be ploughing the roads in phase three of Merrickville Estates until they take them over. Council also decided in the same resolution that they would not be putting the paving of HF McLean Road into the 2019 budget. These decisions were the recommendation that staff made to council in a report they prepared about Chuck’s requests.
Possible issues with the addition of two more phases to Merrickville Estates were also brought up at the meeting, in a letter from resident of the subdivision, Robbie Giles. In an open letter to council, he expressed concern about the expansion of Merrickville Estates, and hoped that some processes would be put into place to ensure it aligns with the municipality’s strategic plan. He is particularly concerned about the wildlife that currently resides in the area earmarked for phase four and five of Merrickville Estates. “Will the municipality actively guide, or lead an impact assessment, related to the natural habitats and environments associated with any proposed expansion of Merrickville Estates?” he asked in the letter. “Blanding’s turtles, whip-poor-wills, both ‘at risk’ species, as well as ducks, geese, deer, coyotes, wolves, rabbits are all known to be present in this area.”
Robbie says he isn’t against development. He understands the needs of the municipality to expand their tax base and the reality of more people coming to Merrickville-Wolford because of the projected growth in Smiths Falls. He says that the purpose of his letter was to spark some conversation around the council table about putting proper processes in place to ensure Merrickville-Wolford grows in a sustainable way. “[I think] there is a lack of oversight in development,” he said. “We need a meaningful, step-by-step approach.”
Council directed staff to prepare a report based on Robbie’s letter, and to bring their thoughts back to council. Robbie says he hopes that council takes the initiative to have these discussions, and doesn’t completely rely on staff to dictate how they should proceed. “I hope that council gets back to me about their thinking,” he says.