Long Point Causeway Improvement Project


Frequently Asked Questions

We've added a new Frequently Asked Questions section to the website that provides specific answers to questions that are often asked about the proposed plan. The FAQs will be updated regularly as the project moves ahead and in response to more questions from the public.

Q. I’ve just received a notice that my property assessment will be increased. This will mean an increase in my Norfolk County property tax. Has this been done to pay for the causeway improvements?

A. Property Assessments are based on the market values of properties sold near your home, not the value of municipal services, including roads that are provided in your community. County road repair and construction represents a small portion of your property tax bill relative to others costs such as water, garbage, policing, etc. The Causeway Project will therefore, have NO impact on your property assessment and little if any effect on your overall property taxes.

Q. I understand the improvements planned for the Causeway may cost $14 to $17 million. Will Norfolk County taxpayers be expected to pay for this project?

A. It would be unfair and unreasonable for Norfolk County taxpayers to pay the total cost of the project. As the Causeway is a County Road and does require regular maintenance and repair, some improvement costs will be borne by the County as part of its normal roads budget. However, other levels of government, the private sector and national and international conservation organizations will be asked to provide much of the project funding. For example, Norfolk County received more than $12 million from the Ontario government this year to improve roads and bridges. The volunteer Steering Committee for the Causeway project has raised more the $140,000 to develop the Improvement Plan and undertake its road kill reduction and public awareness efforts. Not ONE PENNY has come from Norfolk County taxes.

Q. Will all of the Causeway’s beautiful trees have to be cut down?

A. Contrary to some rumours, the plan does NOT propose cutting down all trees along the Causeway. As part of the plans to make the road safer, trees that are unhealthy and pose a safety risk or other trees that prevent widening of the shoulders of the road to minimum standards may have to be removed. All of these trees will be replaced and many more planted along the entire length of the Causeway.

Q: Will an improved Causeway result in traffic increases or decreases in safety?

A. The plan will result in a much safer road than now exists and making the road safer will not increase traffic. In fact, the plan calls for traffic calming measures such as the speed limit reduction recently put in place by Norfolk County and the electronic wildlife crossing warning sign installed at the north end of the causeway this summer. The speed limit reduction is a direct result of an Open House held by the Causeway Project in August 2007 where many Causeway property owners raised this issue. The Causeway plan would install wider shoulders that will allow cars to pull safely off the roadway and a walking/biking trail to make the road safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Q. Will the project put adjacent properties at risk or decrease the value of any Long Point Properties?

A. The roadway and shoulders will be improved in front of these properties and biking and walking trail will be located just across the road. These improvements, along with the planned traffic calming measures, are more likely to increase the safety and value of the properties on the Causeway and for all Long Point property owners.

Q. I love the natural beauty of the Causeway and do not want to loose it. Will the project preserve this?

A. The Improvement Plan would retain the pleasant natural character of the Causeway by following the same winding route and planting trees along its entire length. It would also install a walking/biking trail and viewing stands adjacent to existing parking areas so that people can enjoy the Causeway as something more than just a road between Long Point and Port Rowan.

Q. When will the project begin construction?

A. Not for at least three years, probably longer. This is based on Ecoplans’ estimate that the design and engineering work will take up to 18 months and the environmental assessment process, which includes opportunities for public input, will take a similar length of time.

Q. Is this the final plan or will it be changed before it’s implemented.

A. The proposed plan was developed by Ecoplans Limited, an experienced environmental consulting firm, that was asked to recommend possible solutions to many problems caused by the Causeway in its current form. These problems were identified and agreed upon by the many organizations involved in the project.

Although the plan has been adopted by the steering committee of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project and endorsed by Norfolk Council, it will be subject to intensive design and engineering work and a full environmental assessment process before any construction work begins. Both of these activities may result in the proposed plan being modified before implementation.

Q. How much will the proposed improvements cost?

A. The preliminary estimated costs of the proposed improvements to the Causeway range from $14.4 to 16.6 million, depending on whether a separate walking/bicycling path is included. A breakdown of these costs is provided in the Ecoplans report.

Q. Who will pay for the proposed work?

A. The Council of Norfolk County has endorsed the Causeway improvements but is depending on Federal & Provincial Governments, private sector and national conservation organizations to be the major fund contributors.

Q. Will my property taxes increase if this project goes ahead?

A. Implementation of the proposed plan will NOT result in an additional tax burden on ratepayers in Long Point, Port Rowan or those living elsewhere in Norfolk County.

Q. Will all of the existing trees along the Causeway be cut down for this project?

A. NO. Rumours to this effect are untrue and alarmist. Some tree may have to be removed to allow the shoulders of the road to be widened to the minimum standard of two metres. Others may be removed if a separate walking/bicycling path is included.

The project envisions planting many more trees along the Causeway, including some of the hardier Carolinian trees unique to this area to add to the aesthetic quality of the Causeway.

Q. Does the proposed plan require the level of the Causeway to be raised?

A. No. There are no plans to increase the height of the Causeway along its entire length. The road may be raised in some areas to accommodate the proposed culverts but the rise will be very gradual in either direction. Engineers designing the improvements will ensure property owners are not impacted (i.e. flooding of properties).

Q. Will the proposed plan widen the roadway?

A. No. The proposal only calls for the shoulders to be widened to the two-metre minimum standard for a road of this type. The pavement portion of the road will not be widened.

Q. Will the proposed plan straighten the roadway?

No. There are no plans to change the natural, winding route of the Causeway that followed an existing dune that separated Big Creek Marsh from Long Point Bay. The winding route is part of the Causeway’s natural charm as the gateway to Long Point and has the added benefit of slowing down traffic.

Q. Who is managing the proposed project?

The project is managed by the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project Steering Committee, which includes volunteers representing 18 local, provincial and national organizations, of which each representative has been appointed by and reports to their own organization on the project. Some individual citizens well-known in the community also serve voluntarily on the committee.

Members of the Steering Committee agreed that the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation (LPWBRF) would act as the lead agency for the LPCIP in regards to applications for funding support and financial and contract management. The LPWBRF Treasurer handles all of the LPCIP’s financial business and reports regularly to the Committee on these matters.

The member organizations of the LPCIP Steering Committee are listed elsewhere on this website.

Q. Did the LPCIP propose the reduced speed limits along the Causeway?

A. No. Concerns about speed limits were raised by Causeway property owners at an Open House hosted by the LPCIP Steering Committee in August 2007. In response, Norfolk County staff proposed that the speed limits on the Causeway be reduced from 70 kph to 60 kph from the Big Creek bridge south to the first marina where the 50 kph zone would now begin. The speed reductions were endorsed by the Long Point Ratepayers Association and approved by Norfolk Council in September 2008.

Q. Has the temporary fencing installed along the Causeway this summer helped to reduce roadkill?

A. Our monitoring of roadkill along the Causeway this summer has found a huge reduction in the numbers of turtles, snakes and frogs killed in the fenced-off area compared to the unfenced sections of the road.

As well, overall roadkill numbers appear to be down this year. This could result from a combination of factors - better public awareness, the fencing and nest mounds, the weather and even people stopping to help turtles across the road. Unfortunately, the lower numbers could also be an indication of significant declines in some species’ populations due to the annual amount of roadkill year after year.

Q. Who installed and paid for the electronic message sign that was at the north end of the Causeway all summer?

The message sign was purchased as a 50/50 joint venture between the LPCIP and Norfolk County. The LPCIP’s share was paid with funding from the federal Habitat Stewardship Fund and Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Fund.

The LPCIP plans to install the sign on the Causeway in the late spring, summer and early fall to alert drivers to watch for wildlife on the roadway. Norfolk County will use the sign during the remainder of the year for speed limit control and at road construction sites.

Q. Why spend money on an electronic message sign when there are “wildlife crossing” signs already posted along the Causeway?

Numerous studies have shown that drivers become accustomed to the traditional warning signs that stay in place all year. Signs that are installed during crucial animal migration periods and attract driver’s attention have been shown to be much more effective in helping to reduce wildlife roadkill.

Q. Who paid for the project study and the temporary work undertaken this year?

A. To date, the LPCIP Steering Committee has successfully raised more than $125,000 to date to pay for the Ecoplans study, and undertook the temporary measures to reduce and monitor wildlife road kill along the Causeway this summer with the help of volunteers belonging to the Norfolk Field Naturalists.

The Ecoplans study and project work last year, such as the open houses, were funded by Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service and donations from 10 local organizations.

The temporary measures – fencing, alternative nest mounds and the electronic message sign – and the monitoring and community relations work being done this year - are being funded by Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, Ontario’s Species at Risk Stewardship Program and Environment Canada’s Science Horizons program.

Q. I have seen a young fellow walking along the Causeway looking for dead animals. What is he doing?

Adam Wilson is a young scientist who was hired by the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation (LPWBRF) with funding assistance from Environment Canada’s Science Horizons program.

Wilson has been patrolling the 3.5 kilometre Causeway three times per week since July 1, taking note of any dead animals on the road and shoulders. If he can’t identify the roadkill, he scrapes the remains off the pavement and bags and tags it for later identification. Adam is working with Scott Petrie of the Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Fund, which stores the animal remains in freezers at Bird Studies Canada until they can been identified.

Wilson’s monitoring program is following the same methodology as used in previous studies so that the results can be compared. So far, it appears that the number of animals killed on the road is lower than in previous years, especially in the fenced-off area.

Q. How were the roadkill statistics that are often quoted – up to 10,000 animals per year— gathered?

A. The common knowledge that there are massive levels of roadkill along the Causeway annually is substantiated by studies by respected scientists, Jeff Robinson and Paul Ashley, of the Canadian Wildlife Services over the past 30 years. A copy of their study is available on this website.

Over 90 per cent of the animals killed on the road are frogs, which have much higher populations than the turtles and snakes that inhabit the Long Point area. Some of these turtles and snakes as designated as Species at Risk, meaning that their populations have become so low that they might become extirpated (no longer exist) in this area.

Q. I don’t see that many animals dead on the Causeway. Aren’t these numbers too high?

A. People driving across the Causeway at 70 kph don’t see the animals that are squashed flat or whose bodies are thrown off the road onto the shoulders. The previous studies found that accurate information could only be gathered by walking along the Causeway in both directions looking for dead animals on the road and shoulders and down in the ditches on both sides.