It appears there will be a final solution to the County Council quandary that is Lane Creek.
Committee of the whole voted in favour Thursday of a motion to realign Lane Creek, a stream the originates north of the village and flows, at times, underneath roads and buildings on Wellington’s Main Street before it empties into Lake Ontario west of the south end of Wharf St.
In the spring time, trout typically swim up the creek and spawn and, depending on the amount of runoff and spring rain, the headwaters can originate as far north as Gilead Road and beyond.
Back in 2013, the municipality was presented with a report that concluded that an underground, unchanelized open bed running vicinity underneath the intersection of Wharf and Main streets were a hazard to the properties above.
After purchasing a convenience store and eatery at the northwest corner of Wellington and Wharf (known as 282 Main St.), Council originally charted a course of action in 2015 that called for the demolition of the building, a creek realignment to the south end of Wharf street and the construction of a parkette and parking spaces where the building stood.
But public outcry through information sessions was swift and ringing.
Business leaders and community members weren’t about to see a key building in the village core be razed in favour of green space, no matter what the costs to the project were.
With public input, a series of options were developed and, on Thursday, committee members voted in favour of option 2017-1 which calls for creek realignment around 282 Main Street and the retention and slight relocation of the existing building.
Thursday’s approval ensures the project will be part of the County’s 2019 capital budget process provided the motion is approved at the Sept. 11 council meeting.
The project is expected to cost the County a net total of $980,000 as, at the project’s completion, Council will declare the former convenience store and restaurant surplus to the municipality’s needs.
The estimated revenue of a potential sale is pegged at $500,000.
Councillor Brad Nieman wondered how the building had depreciated almost $200,000 as the County had paid $675,000 to its previous owner in 2015.
“There wasn’t $200,000 worth of merchandise in that store,” Nieman said.
Director of Community Development and Strategic Initiatives Neil Carbone said the paying above market value was approved by council after it was surmised that such a move would avoid costs, risk and disruption that was anticipated under the previous plan to divert the creek under Wharf St.
“It was known that we paid over market value at that time because even at that higher cost, it represented overall savings,” Carbone answered.
Councillor Janice Maynard wondered when this project would be completed and if there was anyway to start the process prior to the 2019 budget.
County CAO James Hepburn said approval of an option Thursday would allow staff to start sourcing the detailed engineering and examine the permitting process although it was likely, due the fact the creek is a pathway for spawning fish in the spring time, that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would have timeline restrictions on when work could happen.
“But the intention is to have this option approved, get the work done and get this project behind us,” Hepburn said.
Councillor Steve Graham said he was thrilled to see a recommendation come forward Thursday.
“I think we’ve done or due diligence in this matter, we’ve had rounds of public consultation. This has to get done,” Graham said, confirming with Carbone that what was before the committee was the complete project to Lake Ontario and there would be no further phases.
Councillor Gord Fox admitted what the Municipality had in mind a handful of years ago was decidedly different than the motion being approved on Thursday but the important factor was that, after all this time, all parties had arrived at an option that was palatable.
“The important thing is we had public meetings, This was an option that was presented and most people are in favour of it. This is the best solution that we can come up with. Let’s move ahead, get it done and not rehash it any further,” Fox said.
Councillor Roy Pennell wondered if the property would receive any interest once declared surplus and Carbone confirmed there had been inquirers about 282 Main St.