Shorelines a key issue at ROMA 2022

Talbot Trail erosion near Dealtown. March 4, 2020. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Representatives from Chatham-Kent voiced their top priorities at this year’s virtual Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference.

The annual event provides municipal staff and councillors with a chance to speak to provincial ministers and other officials.

Councillor Clare Latimer said the sessions have been very good, citing discussions about the Lake Erie shoreline as an example.

“I met with Ontario Minister of Environment David Piccini to update him on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Cities Initiative,” said Latimer. “We also requested greater engagement from the ministry and province with regards to a review of the Great Lakes Strategy.”

The Strategy focuses on encouraging action by all partners on Great Lakes, from provincial ministries to local clubs, as well as restoring Great Lakes water, beaches, and coastal areas.

“Yesterday, we also focused on the shoreline resilience,” said Latimer. “Chatham-Kent has 155 kilometres of shoreline. Ninety kilometres of that is Lake Erie and the remaining percentage is the Thames River and Sydenham.”

According to Latimer, the municipality has $215-million worth of work to do. She said no municipality can manage funding that amount of work.

“Minister Piccini very much recognized the need for greater leadership by the federal government that would include establishing the new Canada Water Agency,” said Latimer. “We worked very hard to lobby for that.”

Latimer said the lifecycle of infrastructure funding is not where it should be and the more time it takes to manage these issues, the municipality becomes further behind.

“It’s hard for the residents on Talbot Trail to see what’s happening,” said Latimer. “It’s frustrating.”

Continuing to lobby, Latimer said this year money is being put towards completing the work along Rose Beach Line.

“We are just completing EA (Environmental Assessment) on Talbot Trail and there’s a substantial plan for the short-term detour using the first or second concession, which links into the long-term plan of pulling Talbot Trail away from the shoreline.”

Calling it a long-haul worth of work, Latimer said the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is further along in this area of work in comparison to other municipalities facing the same issues.

“Because we’ve been evolved in this work, we’re further ahead.”