I’m getting lots of questions about some buzzkill signs that have been posted by the Town near the hill at the Libro Centre and wanted to update residents and articulate a bit of a vision for the rolling landscape that exists on the sprawling property.
Administration says a sign already existed at the Libro but was in a poor visibility location, so signs were moved to more noticeable locations in response to kids sledding on the hill. I want people using that hill, make no mistake about it, but the Town needs to protect itself, and the residents who would be footing the bill for any lawsuits not covered by insurance.
The issue is one of liability, says Administration, because the Libro hill has not been properly groomed to be a toboggan hill and there are rocks and boulders protruding. The Town’s insurance policy lists Russell Renaud Hill right now as the Town’s only toboggan hill so the Town wouldn’t be covered insurance-wise if there were any mishaps on the Libro hill.
After my motion on Feb. 8 to ask the school board if the Town could have the dirt being dug up by the school construction to create another small hill or at least some contoured land for, say, a BMX pump track for the kids, the Town has reached out to our insurer to assess the impact of adding an additional toboggan hill to the Town’s insurance policy.
When Administration gets this information, they will update Council and I can keep you updated as well. For now, residents need to understand they are using the hill at the Libro at their own risk.
What’s important to keep in mind is the potential for a beautiful, rolling trail on that property to become a destination location for residents and a crucial link in the Town's active transportation network, which has grown by leaps and bounds with the paved shoulders on Alma Street and Front Road South.
More paved shoulder projects are planned in conjunction with road rehabilitation projects this year that will create an active transportation corridor down County Road 20 to County Road 50 and Holiday Beach, where plans are already in the works to create an off-road, single track cycling facility as part of a joint effort between the Essex Region Conservation Foundation and the Amherstburg Community Foundation.
My Council colleagues and I voted in December to seek $263,621 in funding for the Big Creek Trail from the Canada Infrastructure Program COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream. Municipalities are not required to cost share under the program. The federal government will fund 80 per cent of the total eligible costs and Ontario will cover 20 per cent.
The Town has been advised that Amherstburg's allocation for this new stream of funding is $463,621. The Town is also seeking funding under the program to repair the breakwall and infrastructure at the end of Alma Street by the Detroit River that "is in need of emergency replacement due to high water erosion."
The Province will review applications and notify applicants if their project has been selected for nomination to the federal government for review and approval in the Spring and then Ottawa will need to concur. Construction on projects must commence before Sept. 30 and be substantially completed by Dec. 31, 2021.
I've spent a lot of time running hills in Malden Park in Windsor and believe the Big Creek trail has the same sort of potential to be a hub for walking, running, hiking and biking.
Sure, Malden Park has an incredible view of the Detroit Skyline, but the Libro will have the beauty of Big Creek and it will open up for Amherstburg residents a huge swath public land which they currently aren't using. I walked back there with my dogs this winter and was blown away by the possibilities.
Even if the funding request doesn't come through, the potential is still there. And so are the makeshift trails residents have already worn into the rolling terrain behind the baseball and football fields.
This Big Creek Trail project, which "has been identified as a priority infrastructure investment for the Town," will expand and improve upon the budding trail network that's already there, promoting physical and mental wellness for Amherstburg residents of all ages.