Traffic Math—How development threatens the Escarpment’s best cycling and hiking routes

VROOM. This is…VROOM…what biking…VROOM…on Grey Road 19…VROOM…might sound like…VROOM…if the proposed Castle Glen Resort Community gets built.

Grey Road 19 is one gem of a cycling route. Grey County proudly promotes this road, the former site of the Sea Otter Canada and Blue Mountains Gran Fondo rides, on its Cycling Routes roadmap. Grey Road 19 is a local favourite training ride for its long gradient, wide shoulders, expansive views and light traffic.

But what is being done to protect this regional attraction?

One thousand, six hundred new homes. Three hundred additional hotel rooms. Three added golf courses. An approved 5,000 square meters of new commercial space.  Another gas station. We have to wonder, how much extra traffic would the planned Castle Glen development create on Grey Road 19?

The studies haven’t been done. But we can hazard a guess.

Imagine each of those planned houses has just one car—a conservative estimate to be sure. If one car leaves every home in the future Castle Glen Resort Community each morning, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. That’s 1,600 cars over two hours. That works out to 13 cars going by every minute, or one car every 4.5 seconds, for two straight hours. Then the same pattern repeated in every afternoon.

Or, say one car journey per household per day, spread evenly over 10 hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. That adds up to 3,200 cars on Grey Road 19 (one trip out and back for 1,600 cars). That’s 5.3 cars per minute. Just plain math.

One car every 12 seconds. All day long.

That’s the added traffic, on top of what exists today. And we haven’t even considered the guests at the 300-room hotel or people heading to golf.

Would you want to bike on such a road? Would you hike beside it, or in a nearby forest now filled with highway sounds? A popular section of the Bruce Trail follows the shoulder of the Grey Road 19, and this added traffic creates a dangerous mix of pedestrians and many, many cars.

And what about traffic on Sideroad 12, the extension to Sixth Street that borders the other side of the Castle Glen development, a secluded gravel backroad that’s so popular with local walkers that it’s Collingwood’s de facto outdoor stair master?

Nor do those numbers don’t take into account the potential years of heavy truck traffic from constructing 1,600 homes, or the roads and amenities to service them. And of course the proposed hotel rooms, golf courses and shops. Building an entire town on the brow of the Niagara Escarpment, the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is an outdated development concept that would surely be rejected if it were put forward today.

Don’t take for granted that our quiet Escarpment roads will always be welcoming to walk and ride. As the song goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Isn’t it time we established protection for the recreational amenities most cherished by locals and visitors alike, the very foundation of the region’s recreation economy, before it’s too late?

Read more about the proposed Castle Glen development HERE. Sign the petition HERE.

Protect the Source of Silver Creek: Our Biodiversity and Natural Environment are Under Threat from Impending Development

The last significant coastal wetland in our region is under threat – and we need your help to stop it.

Lake of the Clouds in Castle Glen is the source of Silver Creek which flows down the Escarpment, through forest and field before coming to rest in the Silver Creek Wetland and then entering Georgian Bay. Despite being designated by the province as “Provincially Significant,” this wetland, along with Silver Creek and its floodplain, may be lost forever.

If, at the top of the Escarpment, the Castle Glen development proceeds, there will be irreversible damage to the Silver Creek Wetland. Compounding this problem are the Huntingwood Trails and Bridgewater developments at the bottom of the Escarpment destroying forever this Provincially Significant Wetland.

Why is Silver Creek under a particular threat?

As South Georgian Bay’s last remaining intact coastal wetland, any development in its proximity will prove destructive to its very fragile ecosystem and already endangered wildlife. Eventually this will have a negative impact on the water quality of Georgian Bay. Without the wetland to provide a carbon sink to cleanse the water and runoff, the Bay will accept unknown amounts of toxins that will have long lasting and devastating effects on the health of the water and the wildlife that populates it.

In cooperation with the Escarpment Corridor Alliance, Friends of Silver Creek are fighting to protect the creek from top to bottom by working together to force the Ontario government to recognize, respect and enforce environmental protections – and preserve the wetlands they themselves have designated as “significant.” We must curtail development to ensure the lasting beauty and natural heritage that attracts millions of visitors each year to our beloved Escarpment.

Time is of the essence and the impacts are very real.

These developments threaten to destroy endangered wildlife habitat and migration corridors, heighten risks from severe flooding, and will mean the permanent loss of our natural heritage from the Lake of the Clouds, down the Silver Creek to the wetland, and ultimately into Georgian Bay. This area needs immediate protection – it simply cannot wait.

Imagine in the near future if signs along the shores of South Georgian Bay are posted saying “Unsafe Beach” or “No Swimming due to Unsafe Pollution Levels.” Imagine dead trout full of micro-plastics along Silver Creek and no salmon returning to spawn as creek beds have been disturbed. Imagine losing our wild spaces along the Escarpment, replaced by homes with a “view for the monied few.”

We’re determined in our fight to make change happen and preserve this area.

This is your chance to think globally and act locally on climate change. Sign and share both the ECA petition and the Silver Creek petition to help build public awareness of these issues.

We need your help – and so does the environment we all rely on and the nature we all love to enjoy.

By Sunny Wiles, Friends of Silver Creek. The Friends of Silver Creek is an aligned organization with the ECA whose mission is to preserve the Silver Creek Wetlands, the last significant coastal wetlands in the Collingwood/The Blue Mountains region and to stop development, within reasonable proximity, to ensure its environmental protection and natural beauty.

Castle Glen – What the Official Plan Says (and you’ll be shocked)

One of the region’s most popular outdoor recreation sites is slated for destruction at the hands of a Toronto-area developer. The historic Castle Glen site with its hundreds of acres of forest could soon become a megadevelopment unless our community joins together to protect the area.

The project currently plans to replace more than 1,135 football fields worth of forest (1,500 acres) and natural space with 1,600 houses, 300 hotel units, 3 golf courses, businesses, and other commercial developments. This would be the largest development of its kind along the brow of the Niagara Escarpment since the creation of the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Here is a map of what is listed for development on the Town of Blue Mountains website: https://www.thebluemountains.ca/sites/default/files/2021-06/schedA6.pdf

And here is what is on the Town’s Official Plan: https://www.thebluemountains.ca/sites/default/files/2021-06/document_viewer%20%2817%29.pdf

 

Excerpts from the Castle Glen Development Overview:

1.2 Residential uses may include single detached and a variety of multiple residential forms. Commercial uses may include resort related facilities, including hotels and other forms of commercial accommodation units, golf course holes, including tees, greens and fairways and recreation facilities, as well as a range of retail, entertainment and service uses catering to the needs of the resort recreational community that are developed in conjunction with the recreational uses within the property. Civic and institutional uses are also permitted within the CastleGlen Resort Community.

1.3 The maximum number of residential dwelling units in the Castle Glen Resort Community shall not exceed 1,600. The maximum number of hotel or commercial accommodation units, shall be 300. In addition, the existing 87 lots in the “Thunderhill Subdivision” (Registered Plans 910 and 921) are permitted and recognized. Single detached residential dwellings and multiple residential Town of The Blue Mountains OfficialPlan June 2016 return to table of contents 273 dwellings shall be developed primarily in cluster form with a large open space component. In addition, a maximum of 300 hotel or commercial accommodation units, a maximum of 5,000 m2 of commercial uses, a beach club, as well as golf course holes, including tees, greens and fairways and clubhouse facilities, and other associated uses may be established. Flexibility shall be permitted to distribute commercial accommodation units and commercial uses within the applicable designations. The majority of the commercial activities shall be concentrated within the Castle Glen Village Core and Resort Commercial designations.