By Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative
The Ridgetown Independent
The cost to repair the erosion-damaged Rose Beach Line area could be as high as $7.8 million.
This is according to a report that was received as information by Chatham-Kent council recently.
The preferred alternative includes closing the Rose Beach Line between Antrim Road and west of Wildwood on the Lake. This includes building a new private laneway to provide access to residents adjacent to the failure site and future upgrades to New Scotland Line to accommodate added traffic directed away from Rose Beach Line.
“Closing Rose Beach Line and constructing private driveway access behind the existing properties will ensure the properties can be accessed for the longest amount of time possible (over 25 years),” stated the report.
According to Ward 3 Councillor John Wright, the solution is still “missing the boat,” as many residents would like to see McKinlay road upgraded and chipped as part of the solution.
“This still is not helping the people out,” said Wright. “This has been addressed before and put off. Kent Bridge Road is 10 kilometres out of their way. I get a lot of contact from residents wanting to know why McKinlay Road is not addressed here. It just gets bypassed.”
The Ward 3 councillor was not alone in wanting McKinlay Road to be a part of the solution.
“I do believe this road (McKinlay) is used a lot,” said Ward 3 councillor Steve Pinsonneault. “Is it possible we get a traffic counter out there this summer?”
The challenges of erosion, among other things faced by Rose Beach Line, are not new. In fact, public input was sought in 2017 to address the problems and possible solutions. Despite strong turnout from public input, the stretch of Rose Beach Line over South Marsh Creek was closed due to slope and bank failure in 2018.
The environmental assessment process was put on hold until the Chatham-Kent shoreline study was completed to allow for a better understanding of the entire Lake Erie shoreline erosion causes and potential mitigation strategies.
A study, released in May 2020, found that the previously recommended solution is no longer viable due to the continuing degradation of the existing slope. Three new alternatives were developed and evaluated alongside the original measures. These new alternatives were presented to the public as a third Virtual Public Information Centre in December 2020 and January 2021.
AECOM collected and addressed comments and concerns until May 2021, at which time the Notice of Completion was accepted by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.
“Previous attempts to provide protection to the slope, including the placement of rock and concrete rubble along the slope, have not been successful,” the report stated. “Degradation to the slope has continued to occur as evidenced by tree tilting, undercutting, over-steepening of the Lake Erie bluff and implementation of emergency road closure measures.”
A Shoreline Study has been completed for all of Chatham-Kent that provides direction and recommendations for all areas adjacent to Lake Erie that will provide a consistent region-wide approach to the evaluation of road alternatives. For this specific location, the recommended approach per the Shoreline Study is to “retreat.”
The estimated cost associated with the final recommended alternative (Alternative 9) is $7,770,000. The costs associated with the private laneway will be addressed in reports to council this year. The remainder will be included in the 2022 municipal capital plan for future consideration, which will depend on the rate of erosion and subject to council prioritization.