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Good afternoon Mayor and Owen Sound council
I am here today to speak to you about your decision to pave the nature trail that runs from the entrance of Harrison Park to the rainbow bridge. When I read to my mother (whom I moved back to my hometown to take care of) a few weeks ago that city council had voted to fix the road into the park. She said "well it's about time" then I told her that council also voted 7-1 to pave over the nature trail . Then she said "that's the stupidest thing I ever heard. I have been walking that path since I was a little girl; it's one of the last places in Owen Sound that is still a natural path were you can enjoy the beauty of the trees, animals and the river". Over the last few weeks I have been riding down to the park and talking with people on the trails on both sides of the river. Most are shocked that council has decided to pave the natural dirt path over. I understand the reasoning behind paving it over for accessibility access. But I believe there is more to consider before making this decision. Since the park opened 106 years ago my great-great grandparents, great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and my brother and sisters along with citizens from Owen Sound have been using the nature trail. Anyone not driving into the park has used this dirt trail as a time to enjoy the nature of the park we all love. But if it is paved over the whole environment of the area will be changed.
Since it is a natural path through the woods, it is not a perfectly flat trail. There is a hill and curves. In the spring, the ice on the incline on the west side of the trail melts and the water crosses the dirt trail and works it way down the grass area into the Sydenham River. An asphalt trail is not a natural environment. It creates heat, which will change the normal environment of the wildlife that live in the area.
If the path is paved these are some of the problems that will occur.

- the melting ice will create frozen ice on the paved trail mainly on the incline and decline on the hill. When people are out for their daily walks like they have done for years and years, they can step on black ice. Fall. Break bones. And sue the city. Which is really the taxpayers of Owen Sound.
-with the trail in its natural state now, the ground absorbs water, which in turn the surrounding plant life absorb to grow. A paved trail will divert the natural flow of water that has been happening since before anyone set foot in this area. If the path was paved over, city maintenance would have to be out there every morning at sunrise salting the path to prevent accidents.
This leads to the biggest problem. Salt. The salt will wash off the trail and down the incline to the Sydenham River. This will introduce a deadly substance to the wildlife (birds, snakes, frogs, insects,fish ) just to name a few. How long before there will be a dead zone in this area of the Sydenham River due to the high level of salt that has been deposited there?
Dogs and their owners that have been walking the natural trail will now have to avoid it because salt and dogs' paws do not mix. In the winter people cross-country ski on the trail. Asphalt will put a stop to that.
As a cyclist I enjoy riding along the dirt trail. But because of the fact it can be tricky in spots, I ride carefully through the trail. I am also aware that children, elderly, parents with strollers and dogs are also using the trail. If you pave it, it can become a race way for cyclists, skateboarders and many other motorized vehicles that ride paved trail. Putting up a sign will not slow people down on a nice paved trail.
There was a plaque erected along the path in 2008 that states the Niagara Escarpment is an important part of Ontario's natural heritage system. It hosts a myriad of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered or rare. In 1973, Premier Davis and the Government of Ontario took the remarkable step of enacting the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. This lead to the establishment of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the creation of the Niagara Escarpment Plan. As Canada's first environmental land use plan, it protects this unique 725 kilometre landform stretching from Niagara F alls to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. In recognition of its ecological significance, the Niagara Escarpment was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1990 by UNESCO, the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization. The Niagara Escarpment became a permanent part of Ontario's Greenbelt in 2005. - In 2003 the City of Owen Sound created the Harrison Park Master Plan in the section titled natural features and trails the master plan describes the central theme that creates the " urban paradise " feeling in Harrison Park, including slopes, meadows and water courses that create the famous scenery and encourages all design decisions to preserve those features.

In 2008 the city council called the park an urban paradise - please do not pave over paradise and put up an asphalt trail.

Patrick Watson

Owen Sound




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