Kitchener neighbourhood group continues 35-year fight over Biehn Drive extension

A Kitchener neighbourhood group is anxiously awaiting a decision from Kitchener city staff about whether or not it will extend Biehn Drive in the Brigadoon Woods area of the city.

The proposal would see housing built on farm field land near Strasburg Creek but part of that development would need infrastructure built in the area.

That’s where the Biehn Drive extension would come in to help developers get the infrastructure that’s needed to build on those lands.

But, one community group told the Mike Farwell Show that because the area has seen significant development over the years including the addition of Robert Ferrie Drive, the Biehn Drive extension isn’t needed.

Yvonne Fernandes is the President of the Doon Pioneer Park Community Association and she said that extending the road would have impacts on the wetland in the area.

“We’re not against the development,” said Fernandes. “We are against a road that goes through a provincially significant wetland and will have a dramatic impact on Strasburg Creek and the fisheries there. It’s an unnecessary road.”

Fernandes said that the developers could still build the infrastructure that is needed for the development but would like them to consider a safer method to help protect the wetlands in the area.

“What we keep saying to people is put the infrastructure in,” she said. “We recognize that the water and sewer mains are at the end of Biehn Drive. We have done research and the studies that the consultant did shows that the soils are appropriate for directional drilling. That means no open and cut trenching, that means minimal dewatering of that wetland, and they can put the trunk sewer in, put the watermain in and then the developers on the south side would be able to develop their land.”

Fernandes said this development can still be sustained even without the extension of Biehn Drive.

“The traffic that we are seeing on Caryndale for the majority of the day is school traffic that goes past Brigadoon school,” she said. “When they did the traffic studies for the traffic calming, it showed that Biehn Drive and Caryndale is well below the threshold of the traffic that it could hold. If we can get Robert Ferrie Drive connected to Strasburg, people who live to the east wouldn’t have to come down Caryndale any more,” she said.

Fernandes said that it seems silly to her and her group that there’s a willingness to do damage to the wetland by extending Biehn Drive instead of re-thinking the approach.

“We have the answer. Put the infrastructure in. The developers who are sitting and waiting for that infrastructure can put in their applications and do their build.”

Fernandes said that despite this proposed extension being on the books for 35 years, she is asking engineering staff and consultants with the City of Kitchener that maybe the original proposal was wrong.

“This will take the traffic off of Caryndale,” she said. “Strasburg Road has been changed in alignment. When I was on council, we were able to move it westerly to avoid a heritage site. Robert Ferrie was changed in the alignment. Let’s be open to the fact that maybe we got it a little bit wrong back then. Since we’ve done these changes, let’s not put this road through.”

Fernandes added that the city spent close to $2 million to rechannelize Strasburg Creek so that the brook trout habitat could be maintained and could be improved.

“They took out restrictions like a dam, they closed that and rechannelized it so that all of that fishery habitat can be healthy, safe and secure.”

City staff have said that they need more time before presenting final updates to council in September.

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