| May 31, 2007

Feature Article - May 31, 2007

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Feature Article - May 31, 2007

Reality bites into CentralFrontenac road construction plans

by JeffGreen

A couple of months ago, as they considered their 2007 budget, Central Frontenac Council spent the largest single block of their time considering the road construction budget. At $561,000, it was the largest piece of discretionary spending they were faced with.

Based on paper estimates using information stemming from a four-year-old road standards survey, they came up with a list of eight projects to be pursued, at a total cost of $535,000, leaving $36,000 for cost overruns.

That was then.

Now, a report to council from road staff member Steve Reynolds and part-time consultant Bryon Dawn, based on an analysis of the actual costs of the eight proposed projects, estimates them at about twice the original cost, or $1,035,000. The report recommends doing only the first three projects in 2007: the Cranberry Lake Bridge, which has already been completed at a cost of $115,000; a re-paving and rehabilitation project on 4.0 km of the Arden Road (estimated at $165,000); and reconstruction and excavation on 1.2 kilometres of the Oak Flats Road ($250,000).


It recommends deferring proposed projects on Tryon, Shibley, Fall River, Zealand, and Elm Tree Roads for 2008, and completing a five-year reconstruction plan.

Councillors were generally discouraged by the news.

“We spent a fair amount of time discussing road construction projects,” said Councilor John Purdon, “and now we see that the numbers were underestimated. It leads to the question - are these numbers over-estimated? Do we have confidence in these figures now?”

“It was a bit of a surprise to me as well that the costs are way up, especially for the blasting and the removing of rock,” said acting clerk John DuChene.

Bryon Dawn replied, “We found out that the Golder numbers were not accurate. The original GRIPPS estimates are basically maintenance estimates; they are not based on improving roads, which is what we are looking at doing.” Golder is an engineering firm that developed GRIPPS, a system that evaluates the relative state of repair of roads. All of the Frontenac townships have used this system to evaluate their roads.

“This totally undoes all the good work we’ve done in balancing the needs of all four districts. Could we not scale down our projects, just widen some curves, and make the roads a bit safer? We have a lot of roads, and many of them are unsafe. To put all our money into two roads, so we have 5 km of high standard road, when we have 650 kilometres of roads - I don’t know about that,” said Councilor Frances Smith. “To spend $250,000 on Oak Flats Road and tell everyone else their road is on a five-year plan - if you’re living on a road with a bad corner, five years is a long time. Maybe we should stick with the Cranberry Lake bridge, which is already done, and spend $400,000 on maintenance.”

“Let’s take Oak Flats as an example,” said Deputy Mayor Bill Snyder. “This is basically priced using all contractor labour, without our staff doing anything. It could be done differently; it could be done cheaper.”

“I agree with Bill,” said Councilor Jeff Matson, “A lot of this could be done a little cheaper.”

“Maybe we need to get a tender out for Oak Flats to find out the actual cost,” suggested John DuChene.

“We could get one out in a couple of weeks,” Bryon Dawn offered. “You don’t have to proceed with a tender if you don’t like the price you get, but until you go to tender you really don’t know what things are going to cost.”

Recent history has shown this to be true. Tenders for construction projects at both the North Frontenac Arena and the medical centre in Sharbot Lake have come in much higher than the estimated costs, forcing changes in the financing of both projects.

Councilor Gary Smith remains optimistic that more than three construction projects can be completed this year. To a motion that adopted the staff proposal, he added an extra clause asking that reports come to council as the numbers are firmed up, in the hopes that they will be lower than estimated. If that turns out to be the case, perhaps the next item on the priority list, a $90,000 project on Tryon Road, could be considered.

Facilities repair list

Based on the 2007 township budget, council received a list of facilities repairs that have been approved. The $154,000 worth of projects includes $15,000 for the Arden Hall, $40,000 for the Olden rink, and $7,500 for bleacher, canteen, and washroom repairs to the Sharbot Lake Ball Field.

“How and when are we going to do these things?” asked Councilor Frances Smith, to no response.

Burn Barrels – Council received a letter from Heather O’Reilly of Arden, a follow up to a presentation to council nine months ago concerning burn barrels. O’Reilly advocated for the banning of burn barrels, which is something other townships have done, citing environmental impacts from low temperature burning.

“The barrel burning issue was left with members of council with a response that they would investigate and follow up on our concerns and complaints. I am requesting an update on the status of the barrel burning issue,” she said in her letter.

Mayor Janet Gutowski recommended that the barrel burning issue be referred to the newly constituted township waste management steering committee, but committee chair John Purdon had reservations.

“I have difficulty seeing how we can deal with this issue. It is really space in our landfill and our recycling program that we are concerned with, not burning. I think the fire department is more appropriate.”

“It is primarily a health issue, not a waste issue,” said Gary Smith. “Maybe we should get an updated report from the fire chief.

“This is a global issue,” said Councilor Guntensperger, “there is a problem with burning garbage in terms of air pollution. We should consider taking this on, even if it is unpopular.”

An updated report will be sought from Fire Chief Mark MacDonald, and the waste committee will look at it as well.

Letter on Trails – Council received for information a letter from Mel Conboy concerning the resurrection of the rails to trails movement in Central Frontenac. Conboy owns a farm on the section of the K&P line north of Highway 7 that the township developed years ago. A few years ago, he asked the township for a fence, and the township had to comply, because of conditions in the Line Fences Act.

In his letter, Conboy reminded council that in all cases where trails abut farms, the Line Fences Act still calls for fencing at township expense. He wrote that he is aware of at least two farms “in walking distance from the township office” that would qualify. Further he states that fencing costs are now $30 per metre, and other costs related to trails are prohibitive as well, leading him to conclude the township should not be in the land ownership business at all.

“I think we should pay attention to what he said in his letter,” said Deputy Mayor Snyder.

Re-use day proposed – In another letter to council, Jocelyn Steeves recommended that the township consider having a day “in which residents could put out various items at the end of their driveways, which were still good but of no use to them.”

The proposal was referred to the waste management steering committee.

Newlove leads to Thunder – Council agreed to name a previously unnamed lane, which runs off of Newlove road, Thunder Lane. The company that developed a series of lots at the end of the lane on Thompson Lake has thunder in its name.

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