The South Dundas-owned Williamsburg forest, commonly referred to as ‘The 400’, has formally been turned over to the South Nation Conservation Authority.
Council passed a resolution approving the land transfer of the 400 acre parcel at the February 19 meeting.
South Dundas set out a list of conditions for the transfer that SNC willingly met, therefore council had no qualms about approving the agreement.
Under the agreement with South Dundas, SNC will manage current recreational uses, including hunting, and will meet with local residents to determine interest in establishing a local citizen’s committee to help guide the management and use of the forest.
SNC will cover all costs associated with the land transfer and prepare a forest management plan.
If the land ever becomes surplus to SNC’s needs, it will be returned to South Dundas.
South Dundas staff did explore the possibility of the municipality retaining the land and participating in the establishment of a ‘friends of the 400’ organization.
Liability was a concern if South Dundas retained the land.
“The township insurance premium will not increase if the land is used. However, under the Joint & Several Liability Law, the township only has to be one per cent negligent to pay 100 per cent of the loss,” said South Dundas clerk Brenda Brunt in a report to council.
Council unanimously agreed that the transferring the land to SNC was the better of the two options.
Although council has approved the transfer, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds reminded everyone that it will still be some time before the entire process in finalized. “This won’t happen overnight,” he said.