Controversial trail extension endorsed in Tecumseh

Tecumseh Town Council participates in a special meeting via Zoom, April 8, 2021. Image from Zoom.

Tecumseh residents are a step closer to having a multi-purpose trail along Riverside Drive East.

Town Council held a virtual special session Thursday evening to hear debate on a proposed extension of the Ganatchio Trail into the town, with over a dozen delegations speaking.

The consultants recommended to councillors that the project should move forward.

The extension, which would be 2.4 metres in width, is proposed to pick up at Lesperance Road, then run along the south side of Riverside Drive East to Lakewood Park. The trail has been touted by Mayor Gary McNamara and councillors as a much-needed portion of the alternate transportation system being developed in Windsor-Essex. The town has cited urban planning and landscaping experts calling the proposed site the best link between the Ganatchio Trial and Lakewood Park.

“We know that this project has received a lot of public attention lately, and we hope to be able to take the next steps following the presentation,” said McNamara last week.

A report was presented by the consultants, Bezaire Partners, and Dillon Consulting. Paul Bezaire of Bezaire Partners explained that in comparing the north and south sides of Riverside Drive, the south side met more of the criteria, and was more cost-efficient.

However, many residents living along the road where the trail would go believe it’s a bad idea. The group Rethink The Trail thinks that the planned location will not work because of safety concerns and the risk of flooding. There have also been concerns about the south side of the Drive being used, with an existing sidewalk and additional curb space on the north side.

Group spokesman John Parent said during Thursday night’s session that the report does not consider that Riverside Drive will need to be reconstructed in the next several years. He said he’s also concerned by the estimated cost of the trail.

“The trail will cost $1.24 million, that’s $500 a meter, or $153 per foot. The estimate doesn’t include the annual cost of maintenance, nor does include repair costs to the sidewalk to the north,” Parent said.

Parent has said his group is not against bringing a trail to Tecumseh, but he believes residents need a better understanding of the realignment of Riverside Drive and how the project will mitigate design disadvantages presented in the report.

“I strongly believe that nothing should be done until the road realignment is ready to begin.”

The town will continue to take public feedback on the plan with the video of the meeting posted for 30 days on the town’s website. The administration is expected to soon provide its final recommendations to council.

—with files from Adelle Loiselle and Ruby Sweeney