Despite the ongoing pandemic, and senior government funding uncertainty that it brings, two of Chatham-Kent’s most scenic routes haven’t been forgotten, say municipal engineering staff.
Talbot Trail and Rose Beach Line, both ravaged by erosion in recent years, will see their environmental assessments move ahead in the coming months now that council has received the Lake Erie Shoreline Study.
Both roads have had certain stretches closed to traffic in the meantime for safety and structural reasons.
“By no means are we putting anything on hold or any form of delay because of the (pandemic) situation,” said Chris Thibert, Chatham-Kent’s director of engineering and transportation.
“We’re definitely finding new and innovative ways to proceed with these projects for sure.”
For Talbot Trail, a public information session was held in February to provide an overview of the issues and to seek input. Thibert said the timing was by design for the expected completion of the shoreline study.
“We can start driving those preliminary recommendations to present to the public,” he said. “We’re going to rank them in accordance with the evaluation criteria with the municipal class (environmental assessment).”
He added the hope is to re-engage the public again, but whether or not it will be a virtual meeting is yet to be decided depending on when it actually happens.
“Hopefully in the next month or two here, once we have all that information ready to present,” he said. “Depending on what the situation is out there, whether we do an in-person public meeting, or we resort to some form of a virtual one, we’ll definitely make our very best effort.”
The environmental assessment for Rose Beach Line had been on hiatus until the completion of the shoreline study. Thibert added the options previously considered will change based on the outcome of the study and the severity of the erosion.
“It’s basically going to be taking back those recommendations, applying the greater outlook of the study into the equation, and coming up with new recommendations or modifying the recommendations to put forward to the public,” he said.
Thibert said there will be an internal kickoff meeting with the project consultant within the next couple of weeks.
Public feedback will also be sought as part of the process.
“The report was basically 90 per cent complete and now, to bring it forward in its final stages and have a plan for council to endorse, really isn’t a lot of effort required,” he said.
As for the current state of Talbot Trail and Rose Beach Line, Thibert said crews are out regularly to monitor the erosion and take action accordingly.
Thibert called the shoreline study an in-depth and proactive document that will allow the municipality to make the best possible decisions concerning big-ticket infrastructure projects.
He said the municipality continues to engage with the federal and provincial governments to capitalize on whatever funding might be available.
“We’re trying to take into consideration climate change and what the future’s going to hold,” Thibert said. “So we’re prepared and not trying to apply a Band-Aid solution or a temporary solution that’s going to cost more money in the long-term.”