|Friday, March 20, 1931, Vol. 80, No. 7
|The Newmarket Era
|Page 6, col. 2
Radial to be highway.
North Gwillumbury Bill to acquire twelve miles of abandoned Metropolitan roadbed, passes Private Bill Committee after interesting battle, in which it is vainly urged urged that electric cars may perhaps return.
The North Gwillumbury bill came before the Private Bills Committee at the Parliament Buildings on Thursday, March 6th, and provided an hour's rather sharp controversy.
Mr. Case introduced the bill and called upon Mr. Naughton, the Township Solicitor, and Mr. Kingston, representing the ratepayers, explained the provision of the bill was to give authority to the Township to purchase 12 miles of the old Metropolitan right-of-way, which has been abandoned as a railway, and to assess the cost over a special area lying between the railway and the lake which takes in practically all the summer resident ratepayers of the Township from Keswick to Jackson's Point.
Being fair to farmers.
It was explained that the ordinary course would have been to proceed under the Local Improvement Act, but that its limited provisions would not permit assessing beyond the properties touching the right-of-way on each side.
To do so would have included quite a farming area and would have left out many of the summer people which, of course, was not intended. Practically no farming area was included in the special assessable area under the bill.
The summer people comprised 75 or 80 per cent. of the ratepayers within the proposed assessable area, and a substantial majority of these had signed a petition expressing a desire that the Township purchase the property. About half the resident ratepayers within the proposed assessable area had also signed this petition.
No burden on Township.
It was also explained that the ultimate purpose in mind in purchasing this right-of-way was that, sooner or later, an improved highway might be constructed here, so as to relive the present narrow winding lake shore Township road from the intense summer traffic which has become a real menace along this whole twelve miles.
There was no thought or suggestion on the part of those promoting the bill of seeking to close the shore road, nor has the Township Council itself any though of undertaking the actual building of the proposed highway.
If and when this actual work of highway building is undertaken it must of necessity be either by the County or by the York Highway Commission.
What the opposition said.
Mr. H. F. Parkinson opposed the bill alleging that this was only the beginning of an effort to close the Lake Shore Road, also contending that there was no evidence that a majority of the ratepayers desired the purchase of the right-of-way.
Mr. Howard Willoughby also opposed the bill, as did Dr. Cook of Sutton.
Mr. Kingston explained in answer to this contention that out of a total of 486 assessments within the proposed special assessable area between the right-of-way and the lake, 318 were represented in the petitions signed, and he had the petitions present which could be checked up if necessary.
Reeve Sprague supports bill.
Reeve Sprague made a short but vigorous address disclaiming any thought of an attempt to close the Lake Shore Road. He would oppose that at all times but no one was asking for such a thing. He thought, however, that the summer residents who paid nearly half the taxes of the Township were entitled to fair treatment. They were the people asking the Township to purchase the right-of-way, as the initiation of an effort to provide relief from the menace of Lake Shore traffic, and they were willing to pay for it without asking the farmers to pay one cent of the cost.
The Reeve also pointed out that this right-of-way purchase was the main issue at the recent Municipal Election in the Township; and he urged that his Election by about 230 majority was a fair indication of what the people thought of the project.
Forlorn hope of railway.
The Reeve of Sutton, Dr. Cook, still urged as a forlorn hope, that some arrangement might be made by which the road might again be operated as a railway. The Committee, of course, agreed that if such were possible, nothing should be put in its way.
As it is expected the rails and ties will be taken up in April, it was decided to allow a clause to be put in providing that the actual purchase by-law should not be passed by the Township till after the 1st of May, next.
With this clause added the Committee reported favourably on the bill. There remain, of course, second and third readings in the House but it is not anticipated further objection will be offered. Reeve Sprague deserves much credit for the way he has handled this matter in the interests of the municipality.
Twelve miles for three thousand.
For $3000 the Township not only gets 12 miles of road 66 feet wide, with many thousands of dollars worth of well settled gravel road bed, but is also gets the 6-acre gravel pit at Roche's Point, and the summer resident ratepayers for the most part pay the cost.
The next step after this bill becomes law and the necessary by-law is passed which the bill authorizes, will be to ask the County Highway Commission to take the road over, and make a start on actual construction. It is not expected that the whole work can be completed in one year, perhaps not even in two years. But a start might well be made this year in preparation for a permanent pavement on the Keswick-Orchard Beach section as well as on the Eastbourne Island Grove section, where the need for relief from traffic on the Lake Shore is perhaps greatest.
Mr. Harvey, on behalf of the Gray Coach Lines, has stated that once this right-of-way is converted into a highway and made fit for bus traffic, the bus service will be taken off the Lake Shore Road, and that the service to Jackson's Point and Sutton will be over this new road the year round.
Railways: Met.Ry., T.T.C.