Jeff Green | Dec 15, 2005
Feature Article - December 15, 2005
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Feature ArticleDecember 15, 2005
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Logan the lonely road warrior:Central Frontenac Council ends the year as they started it -- arguing about roadsby Jeff Green
Back in January, at the first Central Frontenac Council meeting of 2005, Council heard complaints over how the roads department had dealt with icy road conditions resulting from a series of mini-ice storms over New Year’s.
At a packed meeting in Mountain Grove in mid-January, icy roads and how the township deals with them was a hotly debated issue.
While Council dealt with many issues throughout the year, roads issues continue to surface from time to time. Under pressure from Councillor Murray, the township even established a roads committee this year. Yet, at their final meeting of 2005 this past Tuesday, roads issues dominated again, with Councillor Murray complaining about how the roads department reacted to snowy roads in Kennebec district following the first snowfall of the 2005-2006 winter season.
Logan Murray said he received phone calls on the morning of Thursday, November 24, after a snowfall on the previous evening, from people in the Elm Tree region of Kennebec, asking if the roads were going to be plowed. He brought forward the concerns, via phone and email, to the township office, about how constituents in the region were upset that the roads were not plowed, and were again not plowed by the time they left for work on the following morning, November 25.
A series of e-mails between Councillor Murray and Township CAO Heather Fox ensued. Councillor Murray told the News that he wanted to know “what the roads crew was doing on November 24.”
Through e-mail CAO Fox informed Murray that the amount of snow that fell on that day did not exceed the amount that requires plowing on secondary roads according to the minimum road standards that the township has adopted, but nonetheless gravel roads were plowed on the following day.
“That did not satisfy me,” Logan Murray told the News, “I think we can do better. People want a fairly high service level and I think they should get it.”
Again through email, Murray asked Heather Fox if he could see the timesheets of the township’s road crew for November 24.
A motion to grant Councillor Murray access to the timesheets was brought forward to Council this week, and was soundly defeated, with several councillors saying it is not the job of council to interfere in the workings of the roads department.
“We are here to set policy, not to micro-manage,” said Councillor Bob Harvey.
“I keep getting complaints about roads,” Murray said, “and I think it is my job to bring these complaints forward.”
This prompted CAO Heather Fox to say, “You keep saying you receive complaints, Logan, but we need to receive those complaints in the office in order to respond to them. If we don’t hear directly, there’s not much we can do.”
For the record, Mayor MacDonald asked Public Works Manager Bill Nicol to tell Council what procedure the roads department had followed on November 24.
Nicol said, “Road crews started plowing the hardtop roads at 10:00 am [Thursday Nov. 24], the snow stopped at around 2:00 pm, and crews kept working on the hardtop roads until 8 pm. I then sent them home, and they started again at 4 am [Friday morning], and then we did everything.”Roads Committee disbanded
Later in the meeting Council considered a motion by Councillor Harvey that the Roads Committee, which was set up in the spring and has met about six times, be disbanded.
“We’ve accomplished nothing,” Harvey said.
Councillor Frances Smith said the committee “was supposed to review and set policy. It’s turned out to be basically about which roads should be worked on, and that’s not what we are elected to do. I think we under mine staff at these meetings.”
Councillor Bill Snyder disagreed: “We finally had our first meeting at Piccadilly recently, and I think a lot of important things were discussed, and even though the location of the meeting wasn’t advertised there were quite a few people there to find out what is going on.”
Councillor Murray said “I believe we have a large problem with roads, which is the most expensive and most important function of the township. I don’t believe we have any system for managing the roads and I believe it is Council’s fault. That’s why we need a Roads Committee.”
By a vote of 6-3, the Roads Committee has been disbanded. Councillors Murray, Snyder and Gutowski voted to retain the committee, and Councillors Harvey, Nicolson, Guigue, Smith, Deputy Mayor Putnam and Mayor MacDonald voted to disband it.
Later, Councillor Murray told the News, “This Council has refused to take the tiniest step towards improving the road maintenance situation. I think we are wasting a good amount of money in the roads budget”.
With the Roads Committee having been disbanded, Murray said he will be encouraging members of the public to bring roads problems to the Council table.