Our Scenic and Cultural Heritage

Our Scenic and Cultural Heritage
September 1992
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Jean Haalboom is Chairperson, Society for the Preservation of Upper Doon – SPUD; Chairperson, Heritage Advisory Resources Committee – ROPP, for the Region’s Official Plan Review; Heritage Advocate for built and natural environment, served as member and chairperson of Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation; and member and Vice-Chairperson of Kitchener’s Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee – LACAC. This article appeared in the February 1992 issue of “Waterloo County Times”

In 1986, the Regional Environmental and Ecological Advisory Committee – EEAC – and the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation commissioned a Scenic Roads study. This study was conducted by Dr. Roger Suffling from the School of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Waterloo.

Six hundred road segments within the Region were studied and the roads were rated according to eight categories. The categories with their criteria were:

1- VEGETATION: diversity, forest maturity, variety and structure, colour, structure/edge, and visual texture

2- ROAD SEGMENT: structure, characteristic ditches and banks, condition of surface, official signage, roadside vegetation

3- LANDFORM / RELIEF: slope, terrain changes, rock outcrops, valleys and hills

4- WATER: water quality, water movement, water body, size, shoreline

5- CULTURE / BUILT ENVIRONMENT: telephone and utility poles, domestic architecture, other buildings, other structures, unofficial signage, people

6- CULTURAL LANDSCAPE: gardens, lawns, cropping patterns, farming methods, hedgerows, fences, and field edges

7- CONTEXT: foreground, middleground, vista, enclosure

8- TRAFFIC: four-lane highway, paved highway, paved regional road, paved township road, gravel township road

This region is truly blessed with scenic roads. One does not have to go to P.E.I. or Europe to experience a breathtaking view of nature’s beauty; the study proved it is right in our own backyard.

Where are the best roads? Try Twp Rd 16 in Wilmot, Twp Rd 5 in North Dumphries, West River Road in Cambridge, Twp 8 in Wellesley and Twp 60 in Woolwich.

Stauffer Drive in the Doon Pioneer Park area of Kitchener, for example rates in the top 2% of all scenic roads in the Region. It is filled with nature’s surprises in every season. In the winter, you may come upon a deer sauntering across the road or a cardinal flicking snow from its wing. In the spring you can enjoy the road tunneling its way under an unfolding canopy of green.

Stauffer is only part of the scenic roads system in this area. The system consists of Tilt Drive, Groh Drive, and Reidel Drive. Driving tours of 4 interesting routes have been produced; maps are available from the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation.

The four scenic routes on the tour are:

Southern Trail: Wildflowers and Textile Mills
Huron Road: Pioneers and Quilts
Country Lanes: Markets and Maple Syrup
Wellesley Byway: Apple Butter and Corn

At the moment no protection exists for these roads. In the spring of 1990, the felling of the mature tree canopy along Bleams Road from Trussler to Westmount Road occurred. This road was once a shady avenue inviting one for a refreshing Sunday cycle, jog or drive; now, in summer, it is much more like a sauna. It takes an incident such as this to make one realize how quickly and easily our natural heritage can be wiped out with one chain saw massacre. Our scenic roads need laws to protect them if they are to survive.

Now we have the opportunity to get these laws to protect our precious resource of scenic roads. This year both the Region and the City of Kitchener are in the process of reviewing and rewriting their Official Plans, in which we need to provide protective policies for these roads