The city is planning to sell bits and pieces of property along Loudon Walkway that it says were never really parkland.
A road-closure bylaw that would remedy long-standing private encroachments along the walkway passed three readings at city council meetings in October and November.
Loudon Walkway, which skirts Long Lake, was originally known as Lake Road, according to an 1890 Wellington townsite plan.
“The road was never actually built, so this informal trail appeared on there and the public have been using it ever since,” said Bill Corsan, the city’s deputy director of community development, at a council meeting Oct. 16.
Staff has reached out to the owners of the encroaching properties and the intention is to sell eight parcels along Victoria and Wellesley Avenues totalling 15,000 square feet to the homeowners for $326,000. The money would go into the city’s property acquisition reserve.
The road closure bylaw would allow Lake Road to be dedicated as park. A 1983 bylaw did just that, but according to city staff, it wasn’t done correctly.
“On a legal technicality, staff were recommending council ignore the bylaw and implicitly, the provincial laws relating to park,” said David Murchie, a resident of the neighbourhood, at a council meeting Nov. 6.
He contends that Loudon Walkway is a historical and dedicated park and he asked at a meeting Monday, Nov. 20 that council reconsider its third reading of the road closure bylaw.
“I believe that council did not have all the information required to determine if parkland sale is in the public’s interest…” Murchie said. “It’s been used as a park for almost 150 years. There’s no need to rush. It’s in everyone’s interest to have full disclosure, community input, time for staff to fully brief council and time to update the Loudon Walkway park plan.”
Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said the municipality is not in violation of a previous bylaw by selling the road encroachments.
“We’re being consistent with the legislative requirements that are set out when we dispose of surplus road,” he said at a council meeting Nov. 6.
Lindsay said it’s important to note that since the encroachment areas are already basically being used as private property, “for the most part, I would expect very little difference from what you see and experience there today to what you’ll see and experience there once this process is finalized.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe said the bylaw won’t impact public accessibility and will give the walkway the protection of a formal park dedication.
“As staff has pointed out, this is just cleaning up a bit of a historical mess and I don’t see us ever considering expropriation of the encroached pieces of property,” Thorpe said.
Coun. Jerry Hong said, “Let’s get this cleaned up and move forward.”
The road-closure bylaw passed third reading Nov. 6 with councillors Diane Brennan and Gord Fuller opposed.