In a 6-2 vote, Sackville Town Council approved a five-year recreation master plan at its meeting last Monday after rejecting an appeal to include a reference to a pedestrian walkway over the TransCanada highway.
Christina DeHaas asked councillors to amend the plan to include wording from one in 2006 that stated: “The TransCanada crossing at the Waterfowl Park and the linkage between the Waterfowl Park and Lilas Fawcett Park are to be included in project prioritization.”
DeHaas also read a second reference in the 2006 recreation plan stating “that the town should work with the province of New Brunswick in developing an under-highway corridor that primarily provides a real human linkage to existing and future trails on both sides of the highway. This is a long-term solution that should be placed on the provincial radar for future implementation.”
DeHaas said that including this wording in the latest recreation master plan would reflect the wishes of 519 people who had previously signed a petition supporting construction of a pedway over the highway as well as members of the Sackville Pedway Working Group and supporters of the TransCanada Trail.
“The pedway is near and dear to my heart,” said Councillor Bill Evans. “I love the idea.”
But Evans went on to say it would be dishonest to refer to it as a priority in the recreation master plan because the town doesn’t have the money in its capital budget to build it.
He added that the under-highway corridor referred to in the old plan was primarily intended to allow wildlife to cross the highway.
Evans said that not including mention of the pedway in the recreation plan won’t prevent the working group from continuing to seek funding or whatever else would be needed to make a pedway happen.
“But I don’t think it’s fair for us to sign off on a document that says it’s a priority when I honestly don’t think it is,” Evans said.
Later, when the recreation master plan came up for approval, Councillors Shawn Mesheau and Bruce Phinney asked council to delay the vote until July 8th.
Councillor Mesheau explained that such a postponement would allow time for a public presentation and for citizens to ask questions that might lead to changes.
However, Councillors Evans, Butcher and Black along with Deputy Mayor Aiken said there had already been extensive public consultations and so, there was no need for a delay.
In the end, six councillors voted to approve the plan with Councillors Mesheau and Phinney voting against it.
To read previous coverage of the pedway proposal, click here.
To read previous coverage of the recreation master plan, click here.