Heavy dump trucks rumble through Newcastle village!

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Dumptruck passing through Newcastle villageOver the past several weeks, a parade of heavy, fully loaded dump trucks has entered Newcastle at the Mill Street exit from the eastbound 401. They travelled north on Mill Street to King Avenue East (Highway 2 in the Village), thence eastward to their destination close to Stapleton Road where their loads of soil were dumped. They returned to the westbound 401 by the very same route. The noise, vibration, emissions and wear and tear on our roads do not belong in the residential and business sectors of Newcastle; nor does the potential for accidents!

Your Association immediately took action by notifying Ward 4 Councillor, Marg Zwart. She then alerted those concerned at Municipal Hall and sought answers. Marg was reminded that several years ago, the same situation developed using the same unfortunate routing of loaded dump trucks rolling through downtown Newcastle and along Mill Street. At that time, our Regional Councillor (Wards 3 and 4), Willie Woo sprang into action, along with your Association, resulting a rerouting of the offensive traffic along the 401 East to Newtonville and thence to its destination.

Dumptruck at King & Mill, NewcastleMunicipal officials have now confirmed they had approved the route through the Village and that the traffic would soon end as the project was winding down. Your Association requested that, in future, serious consideration be given to choosing available, alternative routings so that the residents of Newcastle be spared the burden of this offensive use of the roads in our community.

Your Association is grateful to our Ward Councillor for her prompt attention to the matter. As well, as a local citizen, Willie Woo advised authorities that this routing of heavy truck traffic through the Village was unacceptable, along with photos of the situation!

Bob Malone,
Immediate Past President

July 5, 2019

Train horns – Wilmot Creek

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TO MAYOR ADRIAN FOSTER AND MEMBERS OF THE CLARINGTON MUNICIPAL COUNCIL,

Several months ago, Council voted to take steps necessary to cause Canadian National/VIA Rail to cease blowing train horns as their trains pass through the community of Wilmot Creek (two level crossings – Bennett Road and Cobbledick Road). Although the community did not exist at the time, the first train passed along this right-of-way from Toronto to Montreal in late October, 1856.

With six level (at grade) crossings of both major railways (CP and CN) as they pass through Newcastle, we were particularly alarmed by Council’s action to support cessation of the use of train horns at these two crossings in the Wilmot Creek community and, by possible extension, all other twenty-four level crossings in Clarington, including Newcastle. And, here’s why:

Cost

According to a study carried out on behalf of the Wilmot Creek Homeowners Association and local developers (presumably those companies planning to build Phase II of the Wilmot Creek community), the cost of preparing the two level crossings for the cessation of the use of train horns in the Wilmot Creek community is estimated at $430,000. This study and the dollar number were reported in an article appearing in Clarington This Week on March 15, 2018. Using the study number, the estimated cost of preparing all twenty-six level crossings in Clarington for the cessation of train horns would be just short of $6 million!

It could be argued that the cessation might be limited to the two level crossings in the Wilmot Creek community only. Its fair to say, though, other Clarington residents – who may share the same point of view of some of the residents of Wilmot Creek  – would feel denied if level crossings in their neighbourhood were not treated the same as the two in the Wilmot Creek Community.

All in all, the potential total cost, including insurance (if available), would impose a substantial burden upon the taxpayers of Clarington.

Liability

We have been told liability insurance might be available to provide coverage in the event of a train/vehicle/person accident. While we do not know the cost of such insurance premiums, it’s hard to imagine a small cost what with the insurers’ exposure if a catastrophic incident was to occur at a level crossing, especially the potential lifetime costs of providing for persons with major injuries. Again, a potentially substantial cost to Clarington taxpayers when it might be argued the responsibility for all costs should properly fall to the associations or groups seeking cessation of the use of train horns in their neighbourhoods.

Safety

You have heard them throughout south Clarington: the two long, one short and one long sound of a train horn as a train approaches a level crossing. Speeds vary, but VIA Rail trains travel at up to 150 kilometres per hour (90+ miles per hour) while freight trains typically travel at speeds of about 90km/h (50+ mph). At these speeds, trains will reach the level crossings in moments. And, where an obstruction of a level crossing is observed, it’s impossible to bring trains to a halt before the crossing, especially freight trains hauling 12,000 – 15,000 tons of cargo. Even with drop gates (where they exist) and red warning lights providing notice of an approaching train, an audible train horn could mean the difference between the safe passage of a train over a crossing and a catastrophe.

As well, all of us have from time to time have observed teenagers at crossings and along the right-of-way, walking along with apparent disregard for anything but what’s playing on their earbuds! We know they should be more careful at crossings and along the rail line where they know they are not supposed to be, but there they are – and it may be the piercing sound of a train horn could be the only thing between our kids and disaster.

Of interest is a Federal Railroad Association (U.S.) study in 1995 which found that, in the State of Florida, accidents at level crossings increased by an alarming 87% when the use of train horns was discontinued. This number was thought to be representative of elsewhere in the U.S. The study led the Federal Government to reserve unto itself final approval of any train horn cessation applications; such approval being formerly under the aegis of the State (1).

Safety trumps all!

Lastly

There are about 45 train movements per day (total, eastbound and westbound) along the double track CN corridor in south Newcastle and about 8 train movements per day along the CP corridor in north Newcastle. These are significant totals representing, we believe, a potential elevated risk if any of the current warning devices signalling approaching trains are discontinued, especially train horns (2).

From comments received by a number of our members, we have found the proposition of cessation of the use of train horns is NOT a universally held one.  As well, there was a reported statement from a Wilmot Creek Homeowners Association spokesperson says, “…that there are severe health impacts for our residents…caused by train whistles.” The article in which this statement appeared did not contain any reference to medical evidence/science to support what could be a contention causing alarm amongst some residents.

The Newcastle/Bond Head Ratepayers Association is opposed to the cessation of the use of train horns for the reasons set forth in this paper. As and when the matter arises again, we urge Council to refrain from taking any action which might lead to the cessation of the use of train horns in Newcastle and, indeed, in Clarington.

Respectfully submitted,

Bob Malone,
Immediate Past President
Newcastle/Bond Head Ratepayers Association

July 3, 2019

  • 1. Wikipedia (Train Horns essay)
  • 2. CP and CN Operations, via Clarington Fire Services

Newcastle/Bond Head waterfront spit and pier   –   an issue of great concern

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Bond Head PierThe Board of Directors of the Newcastle/Bond Head Ratepayers Association passed a resolution unanimously to approach local government about the appalling condition of the Bond Head spit and pier.

Bond Head spitAs you enjoy our recently renovated and expanded waterfront park, you will have noticed that the pier extending into Lake Ontario from the park has been barricaded and placed off limits to the public because of the treacherous conditions caused by many years of benign neglect and erosion caused by storms. While it is true the Operations Services of the Municipality have attempted over recent years to keep the pier open by filling in sink holes, it is thought one reason for the lack of development of an overall plan to fully restore the pier MAY have been the belief it was owned by the federal government and thus their responsibility to address the problem.  Not so – the pier became the property of the Municipality in 1999, a fact perhaps not widely known by Council.

Now is the time to act.  Immediate repair should be undertaken to render the Pier safe and usable. To this end, I contacted Councillor Granville Anderson and Councillor Marg Zwart. Councillor Zwart responded quickly and, in fact, met me on the pier to examine the sad conditions. She undertook to contact the Director of Operations of the Municipality and, indeed, has done so. She reports Mr. Horvath is attempting to contact and meet with a coastal engineer to seek guidance. Marg remains with the situation.

Long term, your Association intends to seek support from senior levels of government to underwrite the cost of rebuilding the pier, once a plan and cost has been determined. As I have said, though, IMMEDIATE REPAIRS need be undertaken to that the public might once again enjoy the pier!

Bob Malone,
Immediate Past President
Newcastle/Bond Head Ratepayers Association

July 2, 2019

General Meeting Minutes: Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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President David Saunders called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and welcomed our speaker, Mayor Adrian Foster.

Mayor Foster opened with an update on the many developments in Clarington, such as the Owasco expansion, the Rona building purchase and the new Toyota parts warehouse which will serve dealers from Manitoba to the east coast. A large expansion for marijuana  grow operations in this area is now   about 250,000 sq. ft. with the potential for 500,000 sq. ft. The Mayor indicated that industrial land for new development in Clarington was at a minimum.

Fortunately, the budget was kept to a 2.2% increase, (less than many GTA communities), with taxes costing approximately $5,800.00 for an average junior executive home. The Ontario Government is now reviewing Regional Governments for efficiencies. The Mayor feels that a reduction in representation from the local councils and duplication of services would help. [continue reading…]

A Gift of Art Speaker Series (free)

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A Gift of Art at 187 King Ave. E. in Newcastle is offering a free speaker series on Thursdays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Upcoming speakers include:

  • February 28 – Christine Murphy: Humane Society of Durham
  • March 7 – Marilyn Glassford: Lakeshore Tours
  • March 21 – Kiley Percy: Clarington Public Library
  • March 28 – Sheila Burns: Primrose Donkey Sanctuary
  • April 4 – Mayor Adrian Foster: Your Clarington – an update

Refreshments are free – but the conversation that follows will be “priceless.” For more information, call 905-987-2264.

General Meeting – March 12, 2019

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Our March 12, 2019 General Meeting will feature Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster as speaker. Mayor Foster will be updating us on activities at the municipal level that affect the residents of Newcastle and Clarington. Join us at 7 p.m. in the Lions’ Room, lower level, Newcastle Community Hall, 20 King St. W.

Annual General Meeting Minutes: November 27, 2018

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President David Saunders called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and welcomed our speaker, Councillor Willy Woo.

Councillor Woo, who was retiring after 12 years in the local and Regional Council, opened with a slide presentation and reminisced about the old times that he experienced in the village. He showed pictures of the Green Leaf restaurant that his folks owned and where he and his siblings lived. His father, who arrived in Canada in 1912, and his mum were the hub of Newcastle for many years. Willy was involved with many village activities such as arranging for the old Newcastle Public School plaque monument on Beaver Street or setting up the Town Hall Christmas lights with Rod MacArthur. He mentioned how proud his mum was when he first became a councillor in 2006. It brought back many memories for the old people in the room. [continue reading…]

President’s Message

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Fall is fully upon us with shorter days, trees that are colouring and our regular season of ratepayer meetings and activities. The election is behind us and we are proud to have partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to have put on a forum for all Ward 4 candidates. The end of this effort was to enable people to go to the polls with clear insight into each of the candidates and therefore be better able to make informed choices. That they did and we have a new Council.

This is just another example of how Ratepayers connects community-minded citizens. The Association (you) continues to address issues and events which affect the quality of life in our community as they arise.

Please consider taking your place at the General Meetings which always include high quality speakers who address topics of current interest. The meetings are held in the Lion’s Room in the Community Hall 4 times a year – or as announced. Every home owner or renter are welcomed and encouraged to join.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 27 beginning at 7 p.m. Willie Woo will be the speaker. We hope to see you there. This is your association.

Padre David Saunders
President

General Meeting Minutes – Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

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President David Saunders called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. He asked all present to remember the passing of Art Wynn.

Jill Richardson welcomed our speaker, Marian Timmermans. Both of these ladies are part of the Clarington Hospice committee. Mrs. Richardson experienced the undignified death of her husband in the hospital and Ms. Timmermans was exposed to this situation for many years as a nurse.

Marian explained that our Region is the only one without a Hospice and it has taken 5 years of hard work to get this project started. Land on the east side of Cobbledick Road has been donated by Clarington and the plans for a 5 bed Hospice is in place and includes an easy access for a 5 bed extension. Whitby is building a 10 bed Hospice and Port Perry, a 5 bed Hospice. [continue reading…]

General Meeting – September 25

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We are pleased to announce that our next General meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 in the Newcastle Lions room starting at 7 p.m.

We are fortunate to have as our speaker, Marian Timmermans, from the Durham Hospice Committee. Marian will be bringing us up to date on this necessary compassionate residence.

Durham Hospice web site:

https://durhamregionhospice.ca/

Durham Hospice location:

https://www.clarington.net/en/town-hall/resources/Planning-eUpdate/2018/090618.pdf