What is the History of this Project
The following is a list of documents and reports prepared by or for the City
of London discussing pathways within the Medway ESA or other ESA's.
London Valley Lands Study -1975
This study, completed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) in 1975, reviewed all floodplain lands along the Thames and Medway River.
Results of the study helped establish policy with the intension of preserving these Valley Lands as public open space. With respect to Medway Valley, the master plan recommended that passive
recreational uses be considered acceptable and that priority be given to establishing a bikeway that linked UWO with Gainsborough Road. This involved a bridge crossing the Medway Creek below the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate.
Medway Valley Heritage Forest Conservation Master Plan, 1989
This study was completed by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and UTRCA in
1989. The purpose of this master plan was to establish management
recommendations which would help protect the environmental resource while
permitting passive recreation and outdoor environmental education opportunities. This document discussed various opportunities to incorporate bicycle pathways
within the valley. Upon completion, Option 2 was selected:
Option 2: “Leave the trail in its present condition at most locations; construct
access improvements at specific ravine crossings and perimeter entrances. Design
these improvements so that parts of the valley are accessible to all potential
user groups, include: pre-school children, handicapped persons and seniors”.
On August 8, 1990 City Council Adopted the master plan, but directed the PUC to
establish “a better definition of areas within the Medway Valley Heritage Forest
where bikeways will or will not be permitted based on the jeopardization of
naturally sensitive areas”.
On October 30, 1990 the PUC resolved that:
no bike paths be established in the Medway Valley, but
that provisions be made for an accessible path for the physically challenged
that in considering bike paths in the City, the proposed link between
Gainsborough and Windermere Road be kept alive for future consideration, but not
considered a priority.
Medway Valley Heritage Forest Site Planning Study, 1996
This report was commissioned by the City of London in 1996.
The purpose of this report was to “develop and execute a comprehensive strategy to explore, identify, and where
appropriate, implement environmentally compatible recreational opportunities in
the Medway Valley Heritage Forest.” Development of this study spanned 20 months and involved extensive consultation
with a variety of users with frequently divergent views on how the valley should
be managed. Upon completion, all groups involved selected a preferred management
plan which incorporated compromises at all levels. The final plan approved by
Council on October 22, 1996 included four separate creek crossings (south of
Fanshawe Park Road) to better link a variety of disconnected trails with either
bridges or stepping stepping stones. One of these crossings was located below
the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate and was meant to link multi-use pathways on
each side of the creek. For the purpose of this 1996 Study, multi-use pathways
were meant to service walkers, cyclists and persons with disabilities.
In a letter prepared by the UTRCA in November of 1996 the UTRCA rejected the
idea of installing stepping stones in the Medway Creek due to concerns over
migration of the Spiny Soft Shelled Turtle which is designated as an endangered
species. The use of large stepping stones in the Medway Creek would also create
a point where logs and other debris floating down the creek could get be caught
up. Stepping stones were further rejected due to their inability to provide safe
crossing of the Medway Creek for all users, but specifically individuals with
disabilities, those riding bicycles and children. While the 1996 Master Plan suggested that large structures were “undesirable”,
it clearly stated that they may be required under certain circumstances. The
Principles of Use which were established for the Valley spoke to this:
11) Trail activities/facilities are acceptable as long as serious environmental
damage and/or use conflicts do not result.
33) Structures may be required to optimize the enjoyment and educational value
of the valley for suitable activities.
34) The feasibility and appropriateness of all structures should be based on an
evaluation of site specific conditions in the context of the overall trail
35) The size and number of necessary structures should be minimized.
37) To the extent possible, any necessary structures should: be visually
compatible with the setting (i.e. non-obtrusive, designed to blend with the
landscape), minimize disruption, before during and after construction,
durable, and require a minimum of maintenance.
It should be further noted that the Principles of Use also incorporated the need
to provide accessibility in the valley where environmentally feasible:
2) Access for all levels of physical ability should be available where
While not fully implemented, a number of recommendations made in the 1996 master
plan were achieved. Examples include the formation of an ESA Management Team and
Bylaw Enforcement Officers at the UTRCA and the construction of two structures
including a single span bridge and stair case utilizing funds raised by the
Lower Medway Valley Rate Payers Group. While this stair case and bridge were
installed with the objective of directing trail users away from surrounding
sensitive habitats, it should be noted that the pedestrian bridge which the
Lower Medway Valley Rate Payers Group funded was not shown on the approved 1996
Master Plan. Other projects included the installation of ‘self-policing’ bike
barricades and Parks Bylaw Enforcement signage at the entrances to the ESA, the
closure and upgrade of various hike only trails and the implementation of a tree
City of London Bicycle Master Plan, 2005
The City of London completed a bicycle master plan which Council approved in
March of 2005. The purpose of this document was to guide the development of a
long term, comprehensive, City-wide, on and off-road commuter and recreational
bicycling network. Similar to the 1996 Site Planning Study, this document
recommended a pedestrian bridge be installed across the Medway Creek in order to
link Gainsborough to Windermere Road. The Recreational Bicycle Routes proposed in the 2005 Bicycle Master Plan are
conceptual in nature and need to be assessed on a project by project basis to
ensure that they can be built in an environmentally responsible fashion. The
City of London’s Parks Planning and Design Section are responsible for this and
frequently eliminate pathway options shown on these maps due to unwarranted
impacts to the environment. The Bicycle Master Plan also took into account the current and future
development pressures which will result in the increased use of natural areas
across the City. In preparing the master plan, it was understood that if a
properly planned network of multi-use pathways were not implemented in
conjunction with ongoing development, the resulting impacts associated with the
public establishing their own unmanaged trails, often through very sensitive
areas, would result in significant environmental impacts. Implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan encourages London residents to use
alternative transportation choices such as cycling, walking and in-line skating.
This is key to promoting a healthy community and developing a sustainable
transportation system within the City of London.
Environmental Leadership & Community Vitality
London residents have told City Council that creating a sense of community,
linking neighbourhoods and promoting initiatives which results in a greener,
more sustainable and healthy community are high priorities. The City of London
has in-turn used this feedback to develop their five strategic areas of
priority: economic, development, environment, community vitality, core
infrastructure and culture. The City of London’s Parks Planning and Design
Section believe that the multi-use and accessible linkage being proposed between
Gainsborough Road and Windermere Road reflects these objectives. Prior to a public meeting, our Section has received numerous letters of support
from both community associations and private organizations on all sides of the
Medway Valley. The University of Western Ontario supports the project and feels
that it will be a positive extension to their ongoing $20 Million green
investment at their research park. We have also heard from residents with
disabilities and an organization that coordinates social initiatives for the
elderly, in close proximity to the Medway Valley, that they would appreciate the
enhanced recreational opportunity that this initiative would provide.
City of London Facility Accessibility Design Standards
The City of London Facility Accessibility Design Standards (FADS) was updated in 2007 to better
accommodate universal design principles. These standards encompass the intent of the Ontario Human Rights Code. One objective of this Code is to
design and construct accessible pathways throughout the City’s parks and open space system when environmentally feasible. In conformance with the
1996 Site Planning Study and due to current site conditions, the proposed linkage between Gainsborough and Windermere Road can be made accessible (for
a variety of users including those using wheel chairs, walkers, etc.) without impacting the surrounding environment. Most areas within the Medway Valley could
not be made accessible due to steep slopes, poor soil conditions and extensive tree cover.
Projects of this nature are typically seen as very positive improvements by the
surrounding community. They provide residents with convenient access to a
variety of destination points including their local community centers, schools,
parks and surrounding neighbourhoods without having to drive their vehicle. The
Area Amenities in Northwest
London Map illustrates some of these community scale amenities with their
associated service radius on a population base map.
With this project, the Parks Planning & Design Section wanted to consult with
all regulatory agencies (including UTRCA, Department of Fisheries and Oceans,
Ministry of Natural Resources and Transport Canada) prior to hosting a public
meeting so we were confident that the Provincial and Federal Regulatory agencies
would approve the project and that they did not have any environmental concerns.
Through this process, Transport Canada has required that a Canadian
Environmental Assessment (draft
Environmental Assessment) be completed and that minimum standards be incorporated
into the pedestrian bridge design in order to meet the Navigable Waters
Protection Act and their Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code. In addition to
regulatory approvals, the City has completed geotechnical inspections and tree
inventories prior to a public meeting so we would be able to provide relevant
information and properly address the public’s questions.
Initially, it was the City’s intention to host a general public meeting in the
later half of February 2009 in
order to address concerns raised by the Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers Group,
however, the meeting has been delayed until the fall of 2009.
The Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers Group, also referred to as the Orchard Park
Sherwood Forest Ratepayers Group, is a neighbourhood organization that
represents an area approximately bounded by Wonderland Road to the west, Sarnia
Road to the south, Gainsborough Road to the north and the University of Western
Ontario and the Medway Valley to the east. The Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers Group
(LMVRG) outlined their concerns to the Parks
Planning and Design Section at a meeting which they organized and hosted on
January 22, 2009 at Orchard Park Public School. Following discussions at this
meeting, the Director of the Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers Group wrote a letter
to the City which indicated that their community association’s main concern was
that they did not feel that the proposed pedestrian bridge reflects the intent
of the 1996 Conservation Master Plan. The Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers Group
specifically referenced the sentence in the 1996 Site Planning Study, Section
8.0 (Proposed Site Plan) that discussed how multi-use pathways should be
developed. Within this section on page 8.2, the document indicate that
“The possibility of a bridge crossing at this location has been debated for many
years, and through the development of the Principles of Use, it was confirmed
that large structures in the Valley were undesirable”.
In an effort to address concerns raised by the Lower Medway Valley Ratepayers
Group, the City of London organized a second meeting with the directors of all
community associations that surround Medway Valley Heritage Forest ESA. This
meeting was hosted in Committee Room #1 at City Hall on March 11, 2009. The
purpose of the meeting was to review the project, prior to a public meeting, and
to receive input from all active community groups adjacent to the project.
Minutes of the meeting were taken.
The Parks Planning and Design Section were also asked to present the
‘Gainsborough-Windermere Pathway Connection’ project to the City of London’s
Accessibility Advisory Committee on February 26, 2009. This presentation
discussed how the City of London’s Bicycle Master Plan and all related pathway
projects benefit individuals with disabilities. It was further discussed how
universal accessibility principles would be accommodated for within the proposed
Gainsborough-Windermere Pathway Linkage, how the project reflects the Principles
of Use outlined in the 1996 Site Planning Study, how it conforms with the
approved Bicycle Master Plan and why the Parks Planning and Design Section feel
that this project will result in an overall net benefit to surrounding habitats
in the Medway Valley Heritage Forest. The Accessibility Advisory Committee
endorsed the project.
Construction of this project is relatively simple. The bridge has been designed
in a way that allows the City to construct footings and place the bridge without
having to disturb the creek bed. Since Medway Creek is considered a navigable
creek, the regulatory agencies require a clear span of the channel. The
anticipated span of the proposed bridge is 20 meters and incorporates a steel
structure, a concrete deck and steel railings. The Parks Planning and Design
Section have designed the pathway and bridge to be 3.0 meters wide so that it is
wide enough to accommodate two-way flow of cyclists and walkers without causing
user conflicts. The City of London has constructed approximately 150 linear
kilometres of multi-use pathways and most of them have been built between 2.0
and 4.0 meters wide.
The City of London’s Parks Planning and Design Section are hopeful that
construction of the Windermere-Gainsborough Pedestrian Pathway Connection will
move forward in 2010, but this will be subject to Council Approval following the
public consultation process which will occur between June and early fall of this
For more information on the project, please contact Jeff
Bruin of the City of London Parks Planning and Design Division at 519 661-4980.