A vehicle is shown on Matchette Road in front of the Ojibway Nature Centre on May 3, 2018. Roadkill was identified at the time as a factor in the decline of the Midland Painted Turtle species.
Dan Janisse / Windsor Star
A city council standing committee has put on hold a proposal to close Matchette and Malden roads each fall for roughly two months, despite approval of the plan earlier this month by the Windsor-Essex County Environment Committee.The city’s environment, transportation and public safety committee decided on Wednesday night more information was needed before proceeding with such a plan that would see an almost two-kilometre stretch of each road through Ojibway Park closed annually.The committee sent the road closure plan back to the environment committee to further study the issue and provide new options for the council standing committee to consider.The delay means the issue is unlikely to be approved in time for this year and would not occur, if approved, until the fall of 2020 at the earliest.The environment committee approved the plan at its meeting July 4 after being presented with data from Wildlife Preservation Canada regarding the large number of roadkill around Ojibway lands — especially during the months of September and October, which under the recommendation would be the two months each road annually would be closed to traffic.Only homeowners in the area would be allowed access.“The Ojibway complex supports 160 species at risk in Ontario — some of which are found nowhere else in Canada and others which are globally imperilled,” according to information included in the motion approved by the environment committee. The matter was deferred by the council standing committee.On roads surrounding the Ojibway lands, at least 2,083 wild animals were killed by vehicles in 2016 on roads in close proximity to the Ojibway lands, including amphibians, birds, snakes, turtles, fox and deer, according to the study by Wildlife Preservation Canada.The council standing committee was being called upon to impose the two-month closure of Matchette between Sprucewood Avenue and Broadway Street, a stretch that is 1.8 km in length, while Malden would be closed from Todd Lane to Armanda Street, a stretch of 1.6 km.The closures — aside from local traffic — would occur annually beginning on September 1 and extending to the end of October.The environment committee cited how Kitchener and Burlington recently imposed an annual seasonal road closure of King Road (1 km, seven weeks) and Stauffer Road (700 m, three weeks) and “have had great success with few complaints by residents.”But both roads touted for closure on the southwestern edge of Windsor are frequently used by residents travelling to and from the Town of Lasalle, especially during weekday rush hours.City council two years ago was faced with a similar motion that would have permanently closed the same stretch of Matchette, but rejected even launching an environmental assessment for the plan.Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie sits on both the environment and standing council committees. He voted against the road closures earlier this month and on Wednesday seconded a motion by Ward 1 Coun. Fred Francis to refer the issue back to the environment committee for further study.“Road closures are highly unlikely in my opinion,” McKenzie said. “It will be very challenging for city council to approve that, but there is a better chance to do any number of other things.”He said the issue needed to go back for another look by the environment committee which he felt reacted quickly due to the roadkill data without sufficient information or exploring other options.Related
Traffic data needs to be considered, plus the opinion of experts with “appropriate credentials” on the issue, McKenzie said.“If the focus is on mitigating and protecting the animals, there needs to be a look at other possible options that may have chance to pass through council,” he said.“The standing committee has asked administration to provide all previous information on this to the environment committee — as there may be legal issues with some developers in the area, as well.“The environment committee needs to understand all the issues first and, hopefully, there will be some reconsideration on what the best way forward should be.”email@example.com