Lakeside residents urge CK council to abandon Talbot Trail relocation

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

Several residents along Talbot Trail in Chatham-Kent are calling on the municipality to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better plan to address erosion along Lake Erie.

The plan includes moving the current road 300 metres north of the lake, further away from the bluffs that are being eaten up by erosion. But John Mann, a nearby farmer and an engineer who represents a group of landowners along the lake, said affected farmers don’t want a road through their properties and area landowners don’t want to be abandoned by the municipality only to see their homes eventually gobbled up by the lake.

Mann said the plan needs to be scrapped and the road must be kept at the shoreline and fixed. Mann also said he was angry at first about a road cutting his farm in half but is over it now and just wants a financially viable solution that balances the needs of all the area residents.

“What? You’re going to put a highway through my backyard! Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Mann. “You can’t run a road through a farmer’s property without upsetting him.”

Mann said the current plan doesn’t make sense and there are other ways to do it.

“It’s one thing to say we need to move the road, it’s another thing to say well it’s not [the municipality’s] problem, that’s your problem. You chose to buy there, you chose to live there,” Mann said.

Mann also said several residents weren’t properly consulted about the plan, which made them very upset.

Chatham-Kent Engineering is aware of the concerns and will be bringing a report to Council in November outlining options for Council’s consideration on how to proceed with the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment project, said Chris Thibert, Chatham-Kent’s Director of Engineering.

“As the project is not finalized yet, there is still opportunity to amend at the direction of Council but that will need to be discussed with direction provided at that November Council meeting,” said Thibert.

The first phase of moving Talbot Trail away from the coastal erosion on Lake Erie was given the green light in July. Municipal council voted to endorse the first phase of the project by reopening Talbot Trail from Coatsworth Road to Stevenson Road.

The road, which has been closed since July 2019, is a key connection to many communities and provincial parks including Rondeau, Wheatley, Blenheim, and Point Pelee.