Jeff Green | Sep 06, 2007
Feature Article - August 23, 2007
Back toHomeEditorial - September 6, 2007
It’s only moneyby Jeff Green
Persistence has finally paid off for Central Frontenac Deputy Mayor Bill Snyder. Last week council approved road construction on the Oak Flats Road, which Snyder has been pushing ever since Hinchinbrooke Township was amalgamated into Central Frontenac Township some 10 years ago.
Bill Snyder has argued that most of the Oak Flats Road was repaired in the mid-nineties, and the final section had been scheduled for an upgrade when amalgamation took place. Other priorities dominated the new township council, and every year the Oak Flats Road has been put aside.
Bill Snyder has become more and more frustrated as the Oak Flats Road was bypassed for construction year after year, losing his cool at budget time on several occasions. “It’s a matter of fairness,” has become his constant refrain.
Last week council approved the Oak Flats Road project, which includes a significant amount of blasting, at a cost of $302,000. Only one contractor, Crains’ Construction, answered a tender for the project, and it took some negotiating with township staff to bring the tender price down to $302,000, as it had originally been about $30,000 higher.
At budget time in March the project was estimated at $185,000, and was one of nine road and bridge projects to be done in 2007, at a projected total cost of $535,000. But the budget was done using questionable old consultant data, and in May when public works staff considered the actual projects, they came back with different information. It would take twice as much money to complete all of the projects that were planned, and the Oak Flats Road was now budgeted at $250,000.
Council cut the list of projects from 9 to 3. One of them, the Cranberry Lake bridge in Kennebec Ward, had already been completed for $115,000, and the cost of paving the Arden road was pegged at $165,000, leaving $250,000 in the budget for Oak Flats.
Now, that $250,000 has turned into $302,000, fully 60% of the entire road and bridge work to be done by the township this year.
With 577.3 kilometres of roads to maintain, spending 60% of the construction on a single, non-arterial road seems to be a foolish way to spend limited resources.
I can understand why Bill Snyder supports spending the money; he considers that it is overdue. When the final decision was being made last week, he said, “It wouldn’t have cost as much if it was done 5 years ago.”
But for the rest of council to support this road, when they were elected to oversee all of the infrastructure needs of the township, is hard to accept.
Did the Olden councilors, who have been pushing their own project, the Olden Fire Hall, which was also approved last week at what looks like a bargain price of $532,000 compared to the Oak Flats Road, support Oak Flats in exchange for the Hinchinbrooke councilors’ support of the Olden fire hall?
Did the Kennebec councilors support both projects in exchange for support of the Arden road re-paving?
Are we being governed by brokered deals instead of considerations of the needs of the entire township?
This kind of thing might work at levels of government where there is money to go around, but a poor township must be frugal, and council should make decisions based on information provided to them by staff.
Is council acting prudently in our interest, or are they playing “Let’s make a deal”? - JG