Land purchase stalls gateway sign seven years


The Independent Staff

Lambton County staff had the perfect spot for a gateway sign for the community – it’s just the owner of the land didn’t want to sell it.
That was the word from Jason Cole, general manager of infrastructure at the county after Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan questioned why the sign wasn’t up yet.
“It was supposed to be up by July 1, 2017,” McGugan said recently at a county council meeting adding the county has been working on the project for seven years now.
Cole says the county hasn’t been able to negotiate an agreement with the property owner in Warwick Township. The county has its eye on a hill on the westbound side of Highway 401 near Arkona Road.
“There have been property negotiation issues,” says Cole. “We can’t build it if we don’t have the land. If we lose this opportunity, we will have to look for another site.”
Cole says part of the reason was the cash offered for the land. During the June 7 council meeting, the county approved a new policy which would allow staff to make more generous offers for road right of ways and projects, such as the gateway signs.
The county had been offering landowners between $3,000 and $10,000 per acre depending on whether it was bush or agricultural land. The recently passed limits are between $6,000 and $20,000.
But St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold says the county should simply move on and find a different property.
He says when the project was first proposed, councillors suggested the land near an overpass. At the time that wasn’t allowed. But Arnold says the Ministry of Transportation has given several municipalities the green light to use the land in their communities.  “We need to have a discussion on what our preferred location is.”