There has been no issue more contentious at Peterborough City Hall than the Parkway.
For more than 60 years, councillors have debated its merits and whether to extend the four-lane road all the way to the North end of the city.
Now, just when you thought the issue was put on hold awaiting environmental assessment, city staff and Mayor Daryl Bennett have a plan to build sections of the roadway while leaving Jackson Park out of the mix.
The staff report outlines three recommendations in favour of building a scaled-back version of the Parkway both North and South of Jackson Park.
One recommendation suggests the mayor submit a proposal directly to premier Kathleen Wynne to seek approval to build the parkway from its southern point at the Parkway and Highway 115 up to Medical Drive and then connecting it to Fairbairn Street and Cumberland Drive in the North end
“To be very clear, it’s an $80-million project running the full length of the route as it’s proposed now, leaving out the section at Jackson Park,” said Bennett. “As opposed to $109 million for band-aid solutions.”
In 2013, council approved a project to extend the Parkway from Clonsilla Avenue and North to Water Street and Cumberland Drive but it was appealed by a number of environmental groups and concerned citizens.
At that point the province determined a full environmental assessment was needed — thus stalling the project.
Now, the staff report suggests building the roadway but leaving the bridge and section of Jackson Park out, suggesting a separate environmental assessment be made on that section.
“The North and South link are no problems whatsoever. In my estimation, those are no-brainers,” said Bennett. “People are concerned about the bridge over Jackson Park and in 15 to 20 years when we need to deal with it, we’ll deal with it.”
Former city councillor and lawyer Anne Farquharson was one of the people who opposed to the Parkway extension and says the report is shocking.
“This is essentially 10 steps on how to bypass a minister’s order, without following the order itself and proper procedure,” said Farquharson, who calls the report arrogant and believes this is part of the mayor’s personal agenda.
“I have been led to believe that Mayor Bennett will be running for another term,” she said. “In 2012, when he hadn’t announced yet for his re-election, he told me that his three priorities were the casino, which he is pretty well getting his way on, the police issue and the Parkway.
“The parkway is the one project he hasn’t managed to succeed on yet and he seems rather intent, if not the proper way but then to make an end run as I said.”
The environmental assessment has yet to be initiated and could take upwards of seven years to complete but in the meantime the staff report and recommendations will be presented to council Monday at the committee of the whole meeting.