As the autumnal equinox approaches, climate change activists are aiming to bring 100,000 people out to march the streets of New York ahead of this week’s United Nations climate change summit. The “People’s Climate March” is just one of 2700 events planned worldwide, including a rally here in Peterborough on Sunday in Millennium Park, just before the Purple Onion local harvest festival.
Meanwhile, at Peterborough city hall, our elected representatives and some city staff still think it’s 1970, getting ready to pave over one-third of the greenspace in Northcrest while pandering to developers who want to build more car-dependent subdivisions at the city’s northern fringes, miles away from employment, shopping, and community centers.
To make matters worse, the ward’s only public indoor recreational facility, Northcrest Arena, is about to be retired, and city staff want to replace it with a new twin pad arena at the opposite end of town, as reported by the Examiner. That’s one way to create demand for the Parkway – put all the new houses in the north end, and all the recreation in the south.
The plan to turn the Parkway Trail which runs through Northcrest into a four-lane road is a prime example of the Flat Earth thinking we’ve come to expect from city hall. Councillors, planners, and some residents look at a map of Northcrest and imagine a sleek shortcut across the ward down from Cumberland through Hilliard and Chemong over to Fairbairn.
|Overlooking WalMart and the rest of the city from Milroy Drive|
|Looking up from Parkway Trail to Milroy|
Northcrest comes by its name honestly, as do Highland Heights and Edmison Heights schools. Whereas Ashburnham, Town, and Otonabee Wards occupy the river valley, Northcrest rises rapidly along the axis of Chemong Road, the shortest route from Lake Chemong to downtown Peterborough and Little Lake, used as a canoe portage prior to becoming a road. Anyone who’s tried to bike up to Portage Place from downtown knows how steep and unrelenting that slope is.
In fact, Tower Hill is an astonishing 80 meters above downtown Peterborough.
The Parkway Trail essentially runs along the side of the slope. The area is always wet, even in summer, creating a linear wetland alongside the trail inhabited by wildflowers and grasses taller than we are.
Remember the big flood ten years ago? Chemong Road turned into a waterfall. So much of Northcrest is paved over that the remaining ground had no chance of absorbing the rainwater. Anyone living near lower Chemong or below paid the price. That was a once-a-century storm – the kind of storm that scientists tell us we could experience once-a-decade from now on thanks to climate change.
When the city allowed WalMart to pave over a chunk of land immediately north of and above the Parkway Trail intersection with Chemong Road, planners failed to adequately consider the effect of this on water flow. After its construction, they had to build a large containment pond at the public’s expense to deal with the water.
Imagine how much bigger a water management headache will be caused if the city goes ahead and adds a 25 meter-wide roadway alongside the Parkway Trail for its entire length. The area to be covered over will make the WalMart property look like a postage stamp. Meanwhile, the city’s not waiting for the province’s approval – under Daryl Bennett, the greenspace near Hilliard is already being torn up for sewers.
|Sewers going in on Parkway Trail at Hilliard|
The Parkway Trail is the only natural area in Northcrest. Period. The ward’s only other greenspaces are athletic fields and the zoo’s picnic grounds.
City staff have been hiding from the public all summer the proposals that came in for partnerships with the city to build a replacement for Northcrest arena. Finally last week they announced their list – with Fleming College at the top of it. Yes, that’s right – city staff are recommending replacing Northcrest with an arena at the opposite end of the city.
The southern parts of Peterborough already enjoy the Wellness Center, the Evinrude Center, the Memorial Center, the YMCA, and Del Crary Park. Ashburnham enjoys the Rotary Trail, Nicholls Oval, Rotary Park, Rogers Cove, Beavermead, and the Ecology Park.
What does Northcrest get? Car rides to the other parts of town.
|Open space at Chemong ripe for Rec Center|
The sprawling lawn immediately below WalMart, right along the Parkway Trail on the east side of Chemong, would make a perfect site for a new community rec center that people could easily walk, bike, or bus to, but no one's apparently even thought about it.
According to the Examiner, incumbent councillor Andrew Beamer won’t be there. So there’ll be plenty of time to test candidates Bill Templeman, Dave Haacke, Stephen Wright and Kathryn Eyre on their knowledge of Northcrest’s topography and ideas for recreational facilities.
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