April 22, 2021 Earth Day
Update: Regarding Lakeshore West Rd Construction – Oakvillegreen recommendations Oakvillegreen, is an environmental organization, that is strongly urging the Town of Oakville, to view “improvements” to Lakeshore Road, through a climate change lens. With both a climate and biodiversity crisis, we must adopt a new perspective when planning for a sustainable future.
Please read our latest comments in our statement below.
Public can still submit comments via the Town’s link “Online Comment Form”.
We would strongly suggest that any comments also be sent directly to all Council members. firstname.lastname@example.org
Oakvillegreen has numerous concerns about the “Preferred Plan” for construction:
Firstly, Oakvillegreen has contributed to the Active Transportation Master Plan (ATMP) in past years. We agree that safe active transportation options for those walking and cycling need to be addressed. However, solutions must be found to avoid cutting down trees and damaging the root systems of many others. Cycle lanes added to the existing road bed could be welcome additions for continuity along Lakeshore.
Trees and vegetation lining Lakeshore Rd. create a forest…a vital linkage and natural habitat corridor that is a part of Oakville’s Urban Forest.
This habitat is home to a variety of birds, insects and wildlife. Twice annually this natural corridor plays an especially important role: migratory birds and the monarch use this lakeside refuge after a flight over Lake Ontario or in preparation for a long flight south.
Trees are the number one asset identified in critical features of a Scenic Corridor.
We are in favour of retaining ALL of the trees. Currently, “preferred options” will require the removal of 96 trees. Numerous trees lining the Lakeshore are heritage, mature trees unlike any others in Oakville, and provide multiple urban forest benefits.
Tree protection is paramount for a healthy urban forest. The natural benefits of large mature trees exponentially outweigh the value of new or “replacement trees” of questionable heritage. Our grandchildren, or great grandchildren may one day see replacement trees at maturity, but once the existing trees are cut down, they are gone for our lifetimes.
Other viable options
Earlier in the study, Council directed Staff to come back “with recommendations that include at least one option reflecting no continuous centre lane, no loss of trees and no expropriation of property, while maintaining cycle lanes and reflecting sidewalks/multiuse paths on at least one side and minimizing impervious surfaces.”
So how is it that Staff’s options don’t reflect Council’s request? It appears there should be other road options for consideration.
Multiuse pathways don’t fit
The 3 metre wide proposed multi-use pathway, essentially the width of a car lane, will necessitate the removal of historic trees, many healthy and several a metre wide. It is difficult to believe that this would be considered if we were serious about environmental impact. Although not mentioned in the report, collateral damage during the construction proposed, will result in tree further tree loss, not accounted for in consultant report charts. The multiuse trail option would simply be an irrational choice. There’s no room. Tradeoffs must be made when retrofits happen, but removing mature healthy trees is not wise or recommended.
People choose to walk and cycle along Lakeshore Rd because of the trees, because of the tree canopy, because of the coolness, because of the history…
The Town is planning for a “full urbanization” of the roadway, which includes curbs and gutters and the accompanying stormwater grey infrastructure, that will require invasive construction, increased impermeable surfaces and resulting grade changes.
Interestingly, a closer look at Town reports, show that there are in fact NO reported stormwater issues along the study area. Yet ironically, tree and vegetation removal compounded by proposed increased impervious surfaces, would precipitate the need for storm sewers in the proposed plan. So why fix what ain’t broke?
“One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in one day.” Tree Canada
Green Vs. Grey – Climate Resilience
New “Best Practices” are employing advantages of natural assets or “Green versus Grey” infrastructure. Besides, natural assets are more effective and cheaper to maintain, performing stormwater management functions while simultaneously providing habitat, food & nectar for pollinators, carbon sequestration and so on.
Oakvillegreen supports a more sensitive approach that would see enhanced swales and other greeninfrastructure solutions feasibly, instead of stormwater sewers. Think of the money and the disruption that could be saved.
“The design of the enhanced swale is basic and involves the removal of the top 0.3m of topsoil from the existing roadside ditch and replacement with engineered media bed material; extending approximately 1.0m on either side of the ditch centerline. The proposed enhanced swales act as media filter systems that temporarily store and then filter stormwater runoff. The swales rely on the engineered media bed (typically sand and organic matter mix) to provide runoff reductions and improvement in water quality.” https://cvc.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2016/06/MonPlan_Mississauga_Road_Final.pdf
The Town of Oakville in fact was participating in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI ). Lakeshore Road provides an ideal opportunity to put these leading edge technologies to work. Let’s get innovative!
“The MNAI team provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs and developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure.” https://mnai.ca
Similarly, in Town of Oakville policy “Oakville Strategy for Biodiversity” (2018 p.56) there is specific reference to the opportunities for LID (Low Impact Development) in neighbourhoods such Lakeshore Road, that would reduce impervious surfaces and enhance stormwater management. Other benefits are: “flood reduction, improved water quality, stormwater volume control, cost savings, beautifying the urban landscape, temperature mitigation, benefits to wildlife and biodiversity and climate change adaption.”
East West Travel Options & Traffic Study
An increase in population, should NOT directly translate into increased car traffic. The Town’s traffic study actually reveals that there will be reduced traffic expectations along Lakeshore Road well into the future.
“Based on the analysis outputs, Lakeshore Road West from Mississaga Street to Dorval Drive is operating at an acceptable LOS for existing conditions (2016), year 2021 and year 2031. (Amec Foster Wheeler, Transportation and Traffic Analysis Report, March 2018) “
The Town of Oakville has committed to increase modal options for residents, and improved public transit can reduce dependency on a car centric road. Besides, there are numerous other east-west options for car travel (Speers, Rebecca and soon the Wyecroft bridge ). It would be a unique opportunity to intentionally preserve Lakeshore Road and allow retention of trees and its historic character.
Speeding is a common concern along Halton’s roadways. Removal of healthy overarching trees, widening of the roadbed and the full urbanization of infrastructure will increase speeds along this road, due to the stripping of documented calming features. Understanding induced demand, should make us rethink widening roads to simply accommodate “more cars.” Building bigger roads actually makes traffic worse. That is no myth.
Historic Scenic Corridor
As an historic scenic corridor, Lakeshore Road should retain its identity. A more sensitive plan to preserve historic character and trees of this meandering, beautiful road is expected by a community that values environment and heritage.
We have to be sure we get this right- what’s the rush as we consider such an important decision? A fullsome community consultation should take place so that citizens understand Staff’s most recent recommendations. During the ever -worsening Covid crisis, it is unrealistic to expect any constructive public feedback, using an online forum with limited notice.
On Behalf of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association