Lakeshore Road West Construction Update

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.

For an excellent, factual summary go to Coronation Park Residents Association webpage.    http://www.coronationparkresidents.com/Current%20Issues/
Appears the Town has left up the “Information Page” on their website. https://www.oakville.ca/residents/lakeshore-road-west-improvements-class-ea.html  
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. membersofcouncil@oakville.ca

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Oakvillegreen has numerous concerns about the “Preferred Plan” for construction:

Active transportation 

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.

Heritage Trees

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…

Stormwater

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.

Conclusion:

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.

Karen Brock

On Behalf of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association


Submit your comments on Growing the Greenbelt: Your voice makes a difference!

Deadline April 19th, 2021

Oakvillegreen is all in favour of growing the Greenbelt!

Oakvillegreen is a proud member of the Ontario Greenbelt Coalition. Here is an important information summary. https://greenbeltalliance.ca/what-we-do/growing-the-greenbelt

Also, here is a great summary from the Greenbelt Foundation about Growing the Greenbelt: https://www.greenbelt.ca/statement

Below is a letter from our colleagues at Ontario Headwaters Institute (OHI) that we endorse.

Comments are being accepted on the Province’s Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO). ERO #019-3136  until April 19th, 2021

Two ways you can help:

  1. Please send the letter below via the ERO, with any changes/additions you wish.
  2. Go to https://waterscape.ca/regional-resilience/ and easily add your name which sends comments directly to the ERO for you!

Letter from OHI:

“I support the recommendations developed by the Ontario Headwaters Institute for this consultation, as re-produced below.

I urge the government to embrace this once-in-a-generation opportunity to safeguard our regional resilience by substantially extending the Greenbelt into the broader area of the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The recommendations I endorse:

We urge the province to grow the Greenbelt in the following areas:

  • The Paris-Galt Moraine;
  • More Urban River Valleys (URVs) and ensuring the inclusion of the headwaters of all the URVs;
  • Natural Heritage System across the Greater Golden Horseshoe;
  • Agricultural System in the Greater Golden Horseshoe;
  • Lands and waters in the Bluebelt proposal; and,
  • Key headwater areas not included above.

Question 1: What are your thoughts on the initial focus area of the Study Area of the Paris Galt Moraine?

We recommend growing the Greenbelt to incorporate the Paris Galt Moraine, including its headwater areas.

Question 2: What are the considerations in moving from a Study Area to a more defined boundary of the Paris Galt Moraine?

We recommend:

  • A science-based approach to define the boundary;
  • Protecting all key hydrologic features and functions;
  • Engaging meaningfully with Indigenous Peoples;
  • Conducting in-person consultations once suggested boundaries are identified and the pandemic has subsided; and,
  • Developing clear and easy-to-implement options for property outside the boundary to be added.

Question 3: What are your thoughts on the initial focus area of adding, expanding and further protecting Urban River Valleys?

We recommend the expansion of URV’s to incorporate connections to the Paris Galt Moraine through the Speed and Eramosa Rivers in urban areas as indicated on the maps in the appendices below. We further recommend adding the following as Urban River Valleys:

  • Lake Simcoe recharge areas including the Severn Sound and Carden Alvar, Waverly Upland, Clearview Township, Holland River;
  • Lake Iroquois shoreline areas; and,
  • The Nottawasaga watershed.

Question 4: Do you have suggestions for other potential areas to grow the Greenbelt?

We urge the Province to undertake studies and consultations with a view to adding areas in the GGH Natural Heritage System, areas in the Bluebelt map, and any other headwater areas not captured in that mapping, to the Greenbelt.

Question 5: How should we balance or prioritize any potential Greenbelt expansion with the other provincial priorities mentioned above?

Growth Management —  We recommend the province address the issues in the Growth Plan noted above and prioritize growing the Greenbelt to reduce land speculation, limit extending expensive urban services into the countryside, avoid increased municipal debt loads, and reduce challenges to affordable housing.

Transportation and Infrastructure —  As the province considers growing the Greenbelt, we recommend that it prioritize the alignment of mobility infrastructure with existing built up urban areas and rescind projects that encourage urban growth in the protected countryside and prime agricultural areas including:

  • Cancelling the GTA West, Bradford Bypass, and Niagara Mid-Peninsula Highways;
  • Rescinding plans to build transit stations in the Greenbelt; and,
  • Updating transportation models with Post-COVID commuting data

 Natural Heritage System —  As noted in Question 4, we recommend growing the Greenbelt by incorporating lands and key hydrologic features identified in the GGH Natural Heritage System, including headwater areas and areas identified by Conservation Authorities and municipal mapping. In addition, while municipalities across the region have variations in their natural heritage and agricultural policies, and while the Greenbelt Plan requires municipal plans to conform to it, we urge the provincial government to allow for regional variations and, where there are conflicts between municipal and provincial policies regarding water and natural heritage policies, the more restrictive or protective policy should apply.

Agriculture —  We support the submission made by the Ontario Farmland Trust to grow the Greenbelt across the GGH Agricultural system.

Question 6: Are there other priorities that should be considered?

Health and Wellbeing —  Growing the Greenbelt along natural heritage systems is a cost-effective way to address mental and physical wellbeing.

Climate Change and Biodiversity — Growing the Greenbelt via the Paris Galt Moraine, URVs, the Bluebelt, and through the GGH’s Natural Heritage and Agricultural Systems will build the regional resilience needed to mitigate the changing climate and challenges to biodiversity.

Regional Prosperity —  We recommend that the Province consider the health and sustainable prosperity of the broader GGH as it consults on Growing the Greenbelt, thereby extending resilience and policy consistency to the entire region.

In addition, we encourage the government to pursue a wide-ranging set of new policies to embrace a fair and green recovery and secure regional resilience, thereby protecting ecological integrity, social vitality, and economic prosperity.

Aggregates  —  We support the comments by Greenbelt stakeholders to prohibit new aggregate extraction throughout the Natural Heritage System both within and outside the Greenbelt. “


Will this be the death of Oakville’s last scenic roadway? Lakeshore Rd. West Construction planned

UPDATE: April 12, 2021

The Town has posted details on their website, for the proposed road construction and tree removal on Lakeshore Road West.

 

Please read the excellent summary of the project, and key concerns on the Coronation Park Residents Association website: http://www.coronationparkresidents.com/Current%20Issues/

 

In the latest proposal, 96 trees are slated to be removed.

The “preferred plan” will be going to Council in June.

https://www.oakville.ca/residents/lakeshore-road-west-improvements-class-ea.html

**Online comments will be accepted until April 20th.** but please continue to provide your feedback.

 In addition please:

  • Register your comments with Townclerk@oakville.ca

  • Call your Councillor or better yet, send them an email with your comments. membersofcouncil@oakville.ca

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Will this be the Death of Oakville’s last scenic roadway?

One of the joys of living in Oakville is being able to take in the beauty of the lake, wander through our historic downtown strip, and experience the arching canopy of mature trees lining Lakeshore Road, as part of a daily leisurely outing. But the scenic route along the lake is under threat unless residents speak up.

The Town of Oakville is planning road construction along Lakeshore Road West between Dorval and Mississaga St. in Bronte..  After strong public outcry to an earlier plan in 2019, Town staff has been working on revisions.   But to this writer, it looks like they have once again missed the mark.  An updated plan from the Town presented March 16th is short on specifics and still calls for removal of 116 mature trees, 70 of which are over 20 cm in diameter.

Whether you live along the Lakeshore or not, we want to make sure that you hear about the latest plan so that you can provide feedback to your councillor and the Mayor.  The Town’s proposal is not 100% clear yet, but what we’ve seen doesn’t look good.

The first version of a Lakeshore Road plan was presented at a public meeting in May 2018.  Despite being labelled Lakeshore West “Improvement” Study, local residents were alarmed at the dramatic changes planned for the historic Kings Highway route through Oakville.

Public outcry was loud and swift, to the planned removal of hundreds of trees, widening of the road to “modern standards” and multiple expropriations of private property. After that response, the Town went back to the drawing board. Later, in 2019, a seemingly positive outcome, was the Town’s agreement to do a Scenic Corridor Study, that Oakvillegreen hoped would provide a much more sensitive approach to the planned construction.

At an online public stakeholder meeting on March 16, 2021, a revised Lakeshore Road plan was presented via webinar by Town’s Engineering staff and consultants.

What was missing were any actual plans for review by stakeholders before the webinar.  Two weeks after that meeting, no detailed plans have been shared.  The Scenic Corridor Study report that we felt held promise, seems to have left little impression.

During the recent summary update, it was reported that less property would be expropriated, but with no plans to review, this was tough to verify. However, only when asked directly, was it revealed that 110 trees would still be cut down for the construction being recommended.  Trees are the number one asset identified in critical features of a Scenic Corridor, but questions remain: Where are these doomed trees located? How many of these are heritage, mature trees? Tree protection is paramount for a healthy urban forest. No number of “replacement trees” of questionable heritage is really going to replace the historic giants.  Your 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.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are all users of Lakeshore Road. Admittedly, safe active transportation options for those walking and cycling needs to be addressed. On the Town’s list were sidewalks on each side of the road PLUS a multi-use pathway along the route.  But to include ALL of these features without weighing the impact to mature trees misses the reason that we walk and cycle along Lakeshore in the first place.

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, more impermeable surfaces and resulting grade changes.   Ironically, much research is singing the advantages of natural assets or “green vs, grey” infrastructure that is more effective and cheaper to maintain, while performing the same stormwater management functions.

With numerous other east-west options for car travel  (Speers, Rebecca and soon the Wyecroft  bridge ) why is it necessary to strip Lakeshore road of its trees and character in the name of “improvement”?  Removal of these trees and the full urbanization of infrastructure will increase speeds along this road, due to the stripping of documented calming features. Induced demand; Build it and they will come…even if you don’t want them to!

Do we really want the historic Lakeshore Road to look like another urban thoroughfare? As an identified historic Scenic Corridor along the shores of Lake Ontario, one would think that the Town could have landed on a more sensitive plan to preserve historic character and trees of this meandering, beautiful road.

The current plan, that stakeholders still have not seen, will be going to Council in just 6 weeks (May 2021). Oakvillegreen just learned that the Town will be seeking “public feedback” online for one week only in early April.  We are not even sure of the format for the feedback. Clearly, the Town’s engineering department wants to get this done and started, but we are questioning why the rush? After the Town took two years re-drawing a plan, the community needs more than a week to understand the plan and provide feedback.

It feels like the Town is managing the public feedback process to limit the input via a short time frame and online process. Full disclosure and a sincere response to public feedback all through a climate crisis lens, is all we are asking.

Please share this news with Friends & Family and call your Councillor.

Karen Brock

President, Oakvillegreen