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Old rail tracks will put money in the bank for Greater Napanee

Decommissioning of a retired rail line will put ‘money in the bank’ for Greater Napanee; however, how to utilize the cleared trail is yet to be determined. 

With the current high price of metal, Greater Napanee council determined that now is an opportune time to turn in nearly 5km of rail lines north of Dairy Avenue, bordering Goodyear, which is estimated to earn the Town $150,000 – less removal and labour costs. The funds would likely be used to “fund recreational initiatives,” the document provided to council read; however, council could not agree on what those initiatives might be. 

“The recommendation is to remove all the rail iron and I fully support that, absolutely agree, especially with the cost of iron at this time,” said Deputy Mayor Kaiser. However, part of the recommendation stated that staff should bring forward a powerpoint presentation to council regarding how to utilize the rail property and the option of developing the rail line into a walking trail was not met with support from Kaiser. 

“As a trail, I don’t support that,” Kaiser said. “Almost all, and I’m talking 90 per cent of that rail line, resides between one property owners’ fields. I know they’re not happy about that potential use. There are a lot of initiatives and a lot of good reasons to have a trail network, but when you look at that image from the 401 to the bridge, 90 per cent of it is bordered by Milligan’s properties, on both sides. … Most of it is one property owner. That’s burdensome when you consider the activity through there.”

Kaiser said “a lot of public consultation” would be necessary before investing time and money toward repurposing the rail lines into a walking trail, as he feels there would be a lot of push back.

A Google Image photo outlining the proposed area. Image provided in the Greater Napanee council package.

“I am just drawing attention to the fact that it’s not going to be well received by the adjoining property owners. I wanted to say that out loud,” Kaiser said.

CAO Ray Callery stated that the development of trail networking is part of the Town’s strategic plan, “which the town has formally asked the strategic plan to put on hold until the new CAO has started.” Callery did stress that trail network is a large part of Town’s strategic plan. 

Many members of council initially were on board with turning the old rail line into a walking trail, as has been done in so many other circumstances; however, after Kaiser voiced his concerns many members of council were second guessing the trail.

“Thank you, Deputy Kaiser, for bringing a different perspective,” said Coun. Johnson, admitting that the majority of people would likely respect and use the trails appropriately but there could be some who might use and abuse the trail and adjoining private properties.

“There are also a few people who would abuse that privilege so that gives a little more food for thought for planning for that land or even selling that land to the existing farm,” Johnson said. 

Screen shot of the Greater Napanee council meeting, which took place last Tuesday evening over Zoom.

As for decommissioning the rail lines, Mayor Marg Isbester said it is a, “Long awaiting, very sensible thing we should have done years ago.”

“I think that we do need to look at the future use. It could be one way or another,” said Isbester, noting that trail development is part of the Town’s long-term plan and should be considered carefully. “I think we need to give staff time to bring something forward.”

Council moved to decommission the rail line and hold the funds in a reserve account until a decision can be made on what to do with the property. The motion carried. 

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