Tuesday noon, Township Council and staff held a special COW meeting at the Perth Road Firehall with MPP Randy Hillier to discuss two Township roads and their upkeep.
To no ones surprise, the township is seeking provincial money to help improve the roads. While Hillier listened to the requests, he didn’t quite open up the provincial chequebook
One of the roads is the 401 emergency detour route (EDR) which runs along township Road 15 (Moreland Dixon and Sunbury Roads), and the other is Road 38.
Mark Segsworth, Director of Public Works, said that as part of next year’s reconstruction of Sunbury, they want to rebuild Sunbury Road to withstand EDR loading, and “do it so it will last”. The current plan is to budget $1 million for each of 2019 and 2020, and ask the province for a further $990,000 which would allow more strengthening to be done on the road. Hillier agreed,
“The province can’t have 401 without EDR routes” and asked what the Provincial response has been to previous requests for help with Sunbury Road. Segsworth replied: “They say they don’t subsidize EDRs anywhere else in the province.” He added that the Township’s previous applications for road grants had appeared to have been denied “to some extent because we’re in a stable financial position.”
Hillier said that while the province had claimed that “those who manage their assets in a responsible manner will be recognized,” one problem of the current lottery-style funding is that it can favour less responsible areas.
“Government and infrastructure (funding) should not be random.” He agreed to talk to Catherine Moore of MTO about the need for the province to recognize that some portion of EDR upkeep should be a provincial responsibility. “We need a dedicated fund we can depend on, not just one-off programs,” said Vandewal.
Councillor Barbeau asked “Why did we get stuck with Road 38 at the time of amalgamation?” It seems that it’s a unique situation: at the time of amalgamation, Frontenac County became Frontenac Management Board for several years, and as such, was not eligible to own a highway.
So, 38 was handed over to South and Central Frontenac as a township road, with Kingston agreeing to provide upkeep funding assistance for ten years. (Later extended for a further five). This was based on the fact that Kingston depends on 38 as a direct connection route up to highway #7.
“38 should not be seen as a Township road,” agreed Hillier.
CAO Orr interjected that the Township CAOs are trying to find a way to get the amalgamation agreement amended so that at least a token percentage of 38’s ownership could be transferred to the County. Apparently the Province is likely to look more favourably on grant applications from a County, as opposed to those from a Township.
Hillier said he could at least try to help get 38 moved into becoming a County Road, with a service agreement with the Townships.
“South Frontenac already provides services on 38 such as traffic counts and organizing joint tendering,” said Segsworth, “We scratch their backs, but our back usually stays itchy.”
The general impression was that the meeting had been worthwhile, and that Hillier seemed to have a clearer understanding of South Frontenac’s dilemmas with these two situations. He also seemed prepared to try to help find solutions which might ease the apparently inequitable expectations the Province has in regard to our maintenance of these roads.