RE: Elora Cataract Trail Closure and Construction of Town of Erin Linear Works
Beginning in September, a 5.2 kilometre section of the Elora Cataract Trailway (ECT) from Hillsburgh to Erin will be closed for up to 22 months to accommodate construction of linear works for the Town of Erin’s Wastewater Servicing Project.
The Town’s project on the ECT supports mandated growth. The construction along the trailway will come with short term impacts including the trailway’s closure, tree removals, excavation and restoration. Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is permitting this work on the ECT in the form of a permanent easement. The easement is subject to terms and conditions that will ensure long-term environmental, community and recreational benefits.
The decision to allow use of the Elora Cataract Trailway was not taken lightly. Since 2017, the ECT was identified as the preferred route for linear works through the project’s Environmental Assessment, due to its direct pathway, level surface and status as a former rail line and present use as an infrastructure corridor. This route was approved by the Province through Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks as part of its review of the project’s Environmental Assessment and the issuance of the Environmental Compliance Approval for the works. CVC’s Board of Directors, in their oversight and governance role, ensured all possible options were explored to reduce the construction impact – particularly tree removals – and to ensure long-term environmental benefits were achieved.
CVC has worked closely with the Town of Erin over the last 14 months to ensure the design and construction of the linear works minimizes, to the greatest possible extent, the area of disturbance and number of tree removals. For example, all pipes will now be combined into a single trench rather than two, and the size of the staging area has been reduced. This has led to a 30 per cent reduction in tree removals – from 6,740 down to a maximum of 4,790. As part of CVC’s requirement for restoration and offsetting, a greater number of trees must be replanted than removed, and the Town of Erin is committed to replanting over 21,000 new native trees and shrubs to replace the up to 4,790 trees being cut down.
A mix of 3,883 native trees will be replanted on the affected Elora Cataract Trailway corridor and 17,419 will be planted on Town of Erin and County of Wellington lands. As part of the replanting activities on the ECT, invasive plant species, which have taken over the area since rail line retirement in the late 1980s, will be managed resulting in increased forest cover made up native species, improving the quality of habitat conditions for wildlife over time.
Additionally, many culverts and water crossings along the trailway are beyond their lifespan and need replacement. Through the linear works construction, the Town of Erin has committed to replacing and enhancing the culverts. Four of the larger watercourses crossings will become open-bottom culverts, a method that maximizes fish passage and improves stream health.
CVC will also be working closely with the Town of Erin to restore the trailway surface to existing or better conditions and ensure that all assets including signage and gates are replaced and upgraded to ensure trailway users have a safe and enjoyable experience when the trail reopens.
We ask for our patience and understanding during the disruption and encourage you to seek updates and information directly from the Town of Erin through their project website at erinwastewater.ca.
If you have any questions or concerns about CVC’s role in the process, please connect with us.
We look forward to welcoming back all residents and visitors to the trailway again soon.
Chief Administrative Officer, Credit Valley Conservation