Safety concerns and illegal dumping have prompted officials to restrict vehicle access to a part of a Severn Township road.
A gate is being installed near the area where Carlyon Line turns into Swift Rapids Road. It’s being done for a number of reasons.
One of the biggest issues is people dumping garbage in the area, but there are also problems with ATVs and other off-road vehicles damaging the road.
“They see a wet spot and they just want to play in it,” said Colin Gray, manager of power generation with Orillia Power.
A number of entities have “a vested interest in closing the road” to vehicles, he said, including Orillia Power, Hydro One, Parks Canada and the County of Simcoe.
Orillia Power runs a generating station in the area. Its crews have been impeded by vehicles that have become stuck on the road, which was created so the dam could be built in the early 1900s.
“Orillia Power’s main concern is getting utility vehicles in there. Because of the damage (to the road), it’s of great concern to us,” Gray said.
More seriously, there have been issues related to employee safety, as some people have hunted from the roadside. Orillia Power trucks were even hit by pellets when people were skeet shooting.
While those are serious concerns, the illegal dumping is what baffles Gray.
“There’s so much dumping back there,” he said. “Why would they dump garbage back there when they can drop it off in town for $10?”
The county owns the Shephard Tract of the forest through which the road runs.
“The county is co-operating with Orillia Power, at their request, to restrict access on the Swift Rapids Road,” county forester Graeme Davis said in an email. “The Swift Rapids Road is a utility road maintained by Orillia Power, Hydro One and Parks Canada, which is required to maintain the power dam, transmission system, and lock on the Severn River.”
Davis said the county is “co-operating to help improve the situation on the road itself, and as an additional benefit, to reduce the impacts on the Shephard Tract and surrounding forest area currently occurring. Details, timing and roles are still to be determined.”
A parking area is expected to be created near the entrance to Swift Rapids Road, Gray said, allowing members of the public to get out of their vehicles and walk into the area.
Residents who require access to the road will be given permits for their vehicles and keys to the gate.