A popular area for dog-walking, hiking, jogging and all-terrain vehicles is about to become off limits.
For decades, Orillians have enjoyed the wooded man-made trails in an area of west Orillia popularly known as Toboggan Hill.
The hilly area - located east of Highway 11, south of Coldwater Road and west of Westmount Drive - was approved as the Westmount Landing residential subdivision in 1975.
Back then, the project was approved for 288 single detached lots and seven blocks; portions of the plan were registered in 1989 and 1990, but no development has occurred on the property.
As a result, the area has become a haven for outdoor recreation lovers.
That’s about to change.
Charter Construction, which owns the property, wants to erect a six-foot-high chain link fence around the entire property that would hook up with the fence erected along the highway by the province a few years ago.
“The purpose of the proposed fence is to reduce unauthorized access to the property,” notes a memo to city councillors.
Charter does not need permission to build the fence on its property. However, it does need the OK to remove existing vegetation within six feet of the property boundary; that’s required to provide enough space for the equipment necessary to build the fence.
City staff have provided that approval.
The memo to council notes that “in accordance with the city’s current tree conservation bylaw, trees cannot be cut prior to an executed development agreement on lands larger than 0.5 hectares without first receiving approval from the Director of Development Services and Engineering.”
An evaluation of the tree inventory and a species-at-risk assessment was completed by John M. Quick, an arboricultural/forestry technician.
“It was determined through this evaluation that none of the trees proposed to be removed are an endangered or threatened species,” notes the memo.
The proposed tree removal will not involve clearing, grubbing or removal of stumps.
“As such, none of the proposed work will evoke the city’s site alteration bylaw,” notes the report.
“As the tree removal authorization request satisfied the requirements … of the City of Orillia Municipal Code, the General Manager of Development Services and Engineering approved the Tree Removal Request on July 29.”
It is anticipated that the tree removal process could start as early as this week.
The fence would not only seal off some public access points - most notably at the intersection of Arthur Street and Woodside Drive - it will also mean residents of properties on Arthur Street and Rosemary Road, whose properties back onto the greenspace, will also be “fenced out” of the space.