Road to truce on Mt. Foster

Fred Langan and Tony Rotheram

There appears to be a negotiated truce on Foster Mountain between the municipality of West Bolton and promoters of Mount Foster development. With luck it may bring an end to the most divisive issue in the history of West Bolton and allow limited development of 16 properties on lots ranging from 2.5 acres to 36 acres.

The plan will ensure that 75% of the developer’s property, including the part in St-Étienne-de-Bolton will be placed in permanent conservation status. It has three main principles which will need to be respected at all times:

1) protecting the mountain;

2) giving a permanent access to the tower, known as the Scout Tower, located on the territory of St-Étienne-de-Bolton;

3) ensuring a development with low environment impact.

There will be a private access road for emergency vehicles – not open to the public – and technical evaluation of the impact of sep- tic systems on the water table.

It was agreed by the developer and the municipality at a meeting on September 18, to halt all litigation and work out a settlement based on the proposal.

Residents are encouraged to review the concept on the website and submit comments. A public meeting will be held to review and improve the concept fol- lowed by a formal consultation on a final proposal. The discussion at the council meeting was civil and restrained unlike past discus- sions which were extremely heated.

West Bolton Council made it clear that this is a proposal and not a done deal. Comments and suggestions from residents are sought. There will be a public discussion of the concept and suggestions for any changes, followed by a formal consultation as required by law.

There are still many hurdles, in particular on the legal status of land which would come under some form of conservation. The question of conservation status is further complicated by the fact that two municipalities are involved, West Bolton and St-Étienne- de-Bolton where the tower is situated.

Civility has returned to public discussions in West Bolton. There could well be a settlement to the saga of Mt. Foster in the new year.