Harrison residents could be enjoying a new trail soon.
During the May 17 meeting, Harrison Hot Springs council voted 4-1 in favour of awarding Transformations Landscaping a $308,000 contract to work on the Miami River Greenway and McCombs Drive Trails project. Coun. Ray Hooper was the lone opposing vote.
The trail section would be made out of gravel rather than asphalt; the asphalt option would have cost approximately $150,000 more, according to a village staff report to council. The trail will have a separation between the road and the walking path.
According to the report, Harrison’s unprecedented visitor traffic in 2020 and the subsequent added pressure on existing walkways – along with significant population growth in the McCombs Drive area – prompted village officials to create the trail project.
Last October, the village applied for grant funding to finish the Miami River Greenway and McCombs Drive trail project. The village received $350,000 in grant funding, which would allow the village to move forward with the new section of the trail, which was approved by council but not yet completed.
The trail expansion project drew heated discussion online. About two months prior to May 17 decision, an opposing petition with at least 130 signatures circulated through the community. Objectors to this trail development pointed out the walkway’s presence might spur drivers to use it as a way to get around speed bumps. Others were concerned about the impact of asphalt on the McCombs area greenspace, including Hooper. Even among council, there was some debate about the use of gravel versus asphalt.
“I think it’s really going to improve our trails in the village in terms of residents being able to walk and not be on the road,” said Coun. Gerry Palmer. “There’s still a few places where people have to walk on the pavement on McCombs and Eagle and those are things to be worked on in the future. To me, it’s a good solution.”
Hooper, who had a number of concerns and questions about the project, pointed out the greenway’s width had been reduced by 25 per cent from the original plans voted on last October. Additionally, he had concerns there were no controlled road crossings in the area and adequate space for parking.
In other council business, Mayor Leo Facio reported that the village’s annual financial report for 2019 qualified for the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting.
“I think that’s a great achievement and I applaud our financial officer (Tracey Jones) and the staff for a job well done,” Facio added.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for June 7 via Zoom. To participate in or sit in on a meeting visit harrisonhotsprings.ca for the Zoom link.