Stone Mills council votes to take control of Varty Lake road

Adam Bramburger
For the Beaver

While they might not have agreed on terminology, Stone Mills councillors backed a decision to take responsibility for an access road to Varty Lake.

Last month, councillors heard from members of the Lennox and Addington Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club concerning access to a roadway on Lot 30, Concession 2 of the geographic Camden East Township that went around the lake off of Bethel Road.

At a recent council meeting, councillors received a report from former deputy clerk Roger Hogan that suggested the issue could be resolved if the road and an adjoining piece of property near Varty Lake in provincially significant wetlands be conveyed to the township to establish a wetlands preservation area that all residents could enjoy, while still allowing the snowmobile club to maintain its access.

The plan would be contingent on the owner of the lands agreeing to convey them to the municipality. Hogan also suggested council may be able to negotiate another land transfer with the owner of another 20-meter wide strip of roadway.

“There are obviously a lot of ‘ifs’ in this proposal, but it is something which I think should be considered as a viable alternative to just accepting these lands as a historic forced road that could result in major financial implications, while doing something positive for the natural environment and the snowmobile club,” Hogan wrote.

Upon hearing there may be surveying costs involved with the property transfer, councillor Doug Davison suggested that council didn’t really need to go to costs to acquire the property, but rather it could just recognize the stretch as a forced road that was improperly titled over 100 years ago as an unopened municipal road allowance.

“All we have to do is put the road allowance in the right name,” he said, adding that designation would seem to make everyone happy. He added some deeds even refer to the stretch as a forced road. Davison concluded he didn’t want to see council spend a lot of money to acquire a piece of swamp.

Chief administrative officer Bryan Brooks said the problem with that solution is that there isn’t any documentation suggesting the township owns the road. He also wondered about the precedent that could be set by allowing its use.

He concurred with a recommendation by Hogan that council direct staff to consult with applicable landowners to clear up claims to title for the land.

Deputy reeve John Wise put forward a motion calling for staff to meet with landowners, resolve concerns about liability and ownership, and reconfirm its commitment the snowmobile club could use the roadway. He also wanted to refer to the land as property, not a road, as he said it doesn’t follow the lines of road allowances originally set out by Camden Township. The motion passed 5-2 with Kevin Richmond and Davison opposing.

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