By Jenn Watt
Published Nov. 28 2017
Everyweek this paper features a “pic of the past” that shows a pieceof local history. Frequently images come from Haliburton’sdowntown area many decades ago. Dirt roads Model T Fords and razedhilltops make the village seem like an altogether different placethan it is today.
Particularly striking is the view of what is nowHead Lake Park but which at one point hosted a lumber mill and trainstation. It was industrial land at the time. It’s unlikely that thelumber barons of 100 years ago would have looked at that lakefrontproperty and imagined a bandshell outdoor exercise equipmentvolleyball net children’s playground and sandy beach wherefamilies swim.
Yet the way this park has transformed over the yearsis a big part of what makes Haliburton the vibrant community it istoday. It is our gathering space. It is in many ways the heart of thevillage.
Now think of County Road 21 just over the bridge on the wayout of town. That stretch is filled with interesting stores homesbusinesses that are key to the functioning of our local economy. Thearea from just past the high school west to about the veterinaryclinic is prime for development and has been the site of newbuilding. A condo is planned for Wallings Road a new Home Hardwareless than a block beyond that. New housing was built beyond the TimHortons and you can regularly find pedestrians walking fromWhispering Pines to the coffee shop and grocery store beyond.
Thereis still space for more and it seems that as new businesses arrivethey are seriously considering locating on that stretch.
Althoughpedestrians can technically walk along the soft shoulder beside theroad to get from one store to the next it’s unpleasant and trafficis frequently zipping along well above the 50 km/hr speed limit.
Whatcould this area look like if we invested the dollars to make it saferand easier to access? County councillors recently received a reportwith suggestions. Some of them didn’t ring true for those who livein the area (closing Wallings Road and re-routing through Halbiemfor example) but much of it makes a lot of sense.
Providing largewalkways for those on foot or using wheelchairs and strollers wouldopen the part of town beyond the bridge to a whole other group ofpeople. Creating visual cues that vehicles are entering a town couldhelp with reducing speeds. And spending some money to improve thelook of the road could enhance the appeal of a town that relies ontourism and visitors for its money.
As county Councillor CarolMoffatt pointed out at last week’s meeting implementing thesuggestions in the study would take County Road 21 from a highway tosomething entirely different.
Something more inviting.