WINDSOR, N.S. – During an active transportation announcement on Windsor’s waterfront, Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said he’s hoping to province will listen to resident’s concerns before making any drastic changes to the aboiteau along Highway 101.
Porter said the provincial department of agriculture is already consulting with area farmers about the project, but doesn’t know when a public meeting will take place. He’s hopeful one will be held soon.
“Maybe 50 years ago the causeway shouldn’t have been put there, but it was, and people have adapted to it, built around it; it’s there,” Porter said.
“Now we have a lake that’s used for recreation, the canoe club, paddlers, and businesses, big businesses like Ski Martock use it,” he continued.
“It’s not as simple as it sounds to just open it up.”
Porter said he’d like to see a public forum held in Windsor, similar to the one that was held when the question of tolling highways to pay for twinning was being debated by the province.
“From the people I’ve been talking to thus far, nobody’s been jumping up and down... to open this up to salt water and changing the water level,” he said. “We need to really look at what our options are because we don’t want to see what we have here change drastically.”
Porter said he knows that environmental activists and others would like to see the Avon River restored to open flow, to allow for full fish passage, but he said there are alternative ways to allow fish in.
“We need to protect what’s here without lowering water levels or allowing salt water in,” he said.
Currently funding and planning has only been committed to Highway 101 from Three Mile Plains to Falmouth. The aboiteau portion of the project remains up in the air as the province continues to consult stakeholders.
“We need to seek something out that works for everybody,” Porter said.
Windsor’s Chief Administrative Officer Louis Coutinho said the town hasn’t been consulted yet.
Cameron Hartley, who owns the Schoolhouse Brewery in downtown Windsor and near the waterfront, said he’s concerned about the lake being fundamentally changed if the aboiteau allows tidal flow.
“Seeing the great value that we have, just starting to gain some momentum around this downtown reservoir, we’re so lucky to have it and are putting money into developing it,” Hartley said. “If you take away this lake, no pumpkin regatta, no aquatic club; I don’t know how appealing the walk around this area would be if it’s all muddy.”
Hartley said he’s hoping a way can be found to accommodate fish migration, such as a fish ladder, without impacting the other uses of the lake.
Waterfront Walkway gets provincial boost
A waterfront connector trail, previously announced by the Windsor Business Enhancement Society, is getting some funding support from the province.
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said the province is contributing $18,250 towards the project. The WBES previously committed approximately $10,000 towards it. The total project is anticipated to cost $36,500.
“We’re spending, in this program, around $600,000 across the province, across 21 projects,” Porter said. “This means walkers, bikers, hikers, anyone who wants to can easily access our beautiful waterfront we have here downtown.”
The funding comes from the Connect 2 program through the Department of Energy, which focuses on active transportation.
“We continue to promote good health and good exercise opportunities,” he said. “It’s accessible too, and we have a commitment to make all of our areas accessible.”
Windsor Mayor Anna Allen said the waterfront walkway has been in the works for many years.
“In the late 1980s …a study was done, which would have had a grand official entrance to the waterfront. Here we are 20-something years later and we’re getting it,” Allen said.
“I’m so excited,” she continued.
“This is a really good example of people working together, a lot of partnership,” she said.
Troy Burgess, the town’s superintendent of operations and Traffic Authority, also highlighted the partnerships involved with the project.
“Although there was no financial exchange or contribution, without Tan Coffee being a partner of sorts, this project could not have happened,” said Burgess in an email interview. “Tan has traded with the town the strip of land needed for the trail in exchange for an equal sized piece of land at the back, which will allow for more parking.”
The trail is officially endorsed by Bicycle Nova Scotia (BNS) and the Avon Region Active Transportation Working Group. Burgess said it also has “the blessing of the Communities in Bloom/Tree Canopy Committee who originally put in the mini park garden that had to be reworked at the Water Street entrance of the connector.”
It’s anticipated the will be ready by mid-September.