| Jan 13, 2005


Editorial January 20, 2005

Feature article January 20, 2005

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Who needs hockey, weve got roads to talk about

The Council meeting in Central Frontenac last Monday was a bit of a dust up. A resident, Kim Leonard, read out a statement about: the state of the Wilkinson road; a phone altercation she had with Mayor MacDonald; and the operation of the township as a whole. There was a crowd of people at the meeting with a strong interest in winter roads, from a very large showing of road crew members to a contingent of concerned bus drivers.

However the meeting was structured in such a way that an airing of concerns about roads, from the perspective of those who maintain them and those who use them, was not possible.

The way Council agendas are put together, a member of the public must inform the Clerk of the township beforehand if they would like to address Council as a delegation. However Council is under no obligation to debate the issues raised by such delegations.

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There was every reason to consider winter road maintenance at last weeks meeting.

Three days before the meeting, on Friday, January 7, a meeting took place between Mayor Bill MacDonad, Public Works Manager Bill Nicol, Clerk Administrator Heather Fox and the entire roads department at the Oso Hall.

Mayor MacDonald said later that the meeting was set up in order to provide support for the roads crew who have been beleaguered by members of the public over how icy the roads are. The very fact of that meeting demonstrates a full awareness on the part of staff and management that there is a concern about the state of the townships roads among the general public.

Mayor MacDonald also said he had encouraged the road crews to come to the Council meeting to see how Council responded to the presentation by Kim Leonard.

Given all that had gone on in the previous week it is surprising that there was no report from the Public Works Manager at the meeting.

A public report from the senior manager, delivered in person or on paper, outlining the conditions that have been encountered by the roads department in dealing with a series of ice storms in the past few weeks would have been useful.

As it was, information came out in dribs and drabs. At one point Mayor MacDonald said four trucks slid off the road on January 2 trying to deal with ice, and one Councillor said, I didnt know that.

When the weather is bad, the roads are bad, and the road crew works to improve the roads. Most ratepayers know that. If it took longer than normal for roads to be returned to normal because of weather conditions, equipment failure, or both, it is in the interest of the roads department that these facts brought forward to a Council meeting.

North Frontenac and Addington Highlands both have had roads committees for several years. It doesnt mean that people in those townships complain less about the roads than they do in Central Frontenac, complaining about roads is probably the number one sport in the region now that hockey and snowmobiling have fallen on hard times.

But it does make for more orderly Council meetings. At the very least there is somewhere to refer public complaints about roads.

Since Central Frontenac Council seems to be opposed to setting up their own roads committee to meet regularly with roads supervisors and report back to Council, direct reports from staff to Council should be a relatively common feature of Council meetings.

Council and the public would be better served by information than it is by speculation and rumours about what the roads department is or is not doing. JG

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