A long, winding road: Politicians back ‘Snake Hill’ overhaul – The London Free Press

One of the steepest, windiest roads in London – Byron’s legendary Snake Hill – is one step closer to the straight and narrow after a key Monday vote by city politicians.

A report endorsed by council’s civic works committee Monday calls for the twisted roadway to be turned into a multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians once Commissioners Road is rerouted around the Byron gravel pit.

“I want to congratulate staff on this . . . I think it’s a good plan,” Ward 12 Coun. Harold Usher said. “I remember days driving down there, I was fearful. It’s still bad for a lot of people.”

Londoners won’t see the end of Snake Hill for 15 to 20 years, but the staff report cements city hall’s long-term plans to redevelop the emptied industrial site. The matter goes to full council for final approval later this month.


Usher raised concerns about the deep craters at the pit, asking staff how much remediation will be needed to make it development-ready. City hall’s transportation boss, Doug McRae, said it’s early in the process but significant infill will be needed to smooth the land.

“It’s a long-term project and as the development identified in the secondary plan begins to take shape, we will work further with the surrounding stakeholders to try and undertake that in the most efficient way possible,” he said.

Future uses for the decommissioned pit could include parkland or residential development. A secondary planning group is sorting out possible options for the site.

Realigning Commissioners Road would cost about $20 million in today’s dollars, not including the cost of acquiring land to do it.  The section of the road at the top of the hill would remain, giving access to neighbouring homes.

Snake Hill isn’t the only future roadwork getting the green light.

Politicians on Monday also endorsed a report recommending a $58-million underpass at the level rail crossing on Adelaide Street near Central Avenue. Trains block traffic up to 20 times a day, city staff said, causing significant delays on the busy north-south corridor.

The project will take two years to complete and a two-lane road detour will be put in place once construction gets underway. The Adelaide Street underpass plan will go to full city council for final approval on Aug. 28.

Reservoir Park, showing Commissioners Road (Snake Hill), 1969. (London Free Press files)