| Feb 21, 2008

Feature Article - February 21, 2008

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Feature Article - February 21, 2008 South Frontenac Committee of the Wholeby Wilma Kenny

South Frontenac Council agreed to endorse in principle a proposed 5-Year Road and Bridge Reconstruction Plan as presented by Mark Segsworth, the Public Works Manager at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole on February 12.

At that time Council had had a number of questions regarding the plan, and Segsworth agreed that there would be need for ongoing review as the program was developed.

Roads have always been of primary interest at election times, and their maintenance and improvement uses a large portion of tax revenue. The roads departments have remained area rated since amalgamation: i.e. each district has its own road budget, and the Councillors from each district are responsible for deciding how that budget will be used.

Appointment of a Public Works Manager and a Technical Advisor (Randy Ferguson) have been beginning steps toward amalgamation. However, Council has resisted any further steps toward amalgamating the roads departments because although the roads in Portland, Loughborough and Storrington are in reasonably good repair and mostly paved, Bedford lags far behind, with only 8 of its 160 km of roads paved. (Bedford also has a much smaller proportion of township-maintained roads than the other districts.)

Bedford Councillor David Hahn provided an historical background to the bumpy status of Bedford’s roads in a telephone interview this week.

In the past, Bedford had a much smaller population base than the other parts of what is now South Frontenac, and many of its taxpayers were seasonal residents. Hahn said that seven years ago, when he and Del Stowe were elected to represent Bedford as a district in South Frontenac, roads were a priority with their constituents.

The population has increased substantially as cottagers retire to live permanently in the area, bringing with them expectations of better roads and services. Both recent arrivals and long-time residents complain of broken shocks and springs. More emergency services, both fire and medical, are available now and require good access roads.

Hahn said the Bedford Councilors who had been in place before he and Stowe came into office had transferred $100,000 from gravel roads to reconstruction, which although bringing improvements in some areas, led to deterioration in others.

Realizing that they needed both maintenance and improvement, they raised taxes, gradually increasing the Bedford road budget to $300,000. This has paid off: ten years ago, none of the Bedford roads could accommodate a tandem truck on a plough: now three routes are upgraded to accommodate large trucks. 8 km of roads have been paved, and the preliminary work has been done to pave 8 more this year. Hahn said they would like to have 40% of Bedford roads hard-topped in the next 10-15 years.

Although this will mean an increase in taxes for Bedford ratepayers, it should certainly help pave the way toward eventual amalgamation of the township roads department.

McMullen Park Improvements: The Portland District Parks and Recreation Committee has undertaken a project to improve the facilities and park area in Verona. As a first step, Council accepted the tender of Percy Snider (low bidder) for demolition of the cottage at McMullen park. The Recreation Committee plans to construct a new building to include washroom facilities, storage and space for day camp and swim programs. Portland has adequate funds in their parkland reserve funds: the building is to be completed by July 2008, in time for the summer programs.

Playground Inspection Procedures for 2008: Chief Building Official Alan Revill will conduct annual and monthly inspections of Township playgrounds, beginning in April. District parks maintenance staff will make and record brief weekly inspections, reporting any damage or hazards to Revill.

Roadwork Tenders: Council authorized the Public Works Manager, Mark Segsworth, to issue tenders for 2008 line painting, surface treatment and hot mix paving requirements on the understanding that the awarding of tenders is subject to Council and budget approval.

Opinion of Private Planning Consultant Sought: Township Planning Coordinator Lindsay Mills had recommended a zoning by-law amendment for the Czychun property on part of lot 1, concession 1, Bedford, to waive the severance requirement of a 400 foot building setback from the water. Council disagreed, on the grounds that the original severance had been granted allowing the formation of a lot with a very small waterfront only on the condition that any development on that lot would be along the road frontage, not the waterfront. The unusually deep setback had been imposed to ensure this. In the case of Council disagreeing with their Planning Coordinator, there is provision to seek an outside opinion. Meantime, decision on the zoning application has been deferred.

There will be no Committee of the Whole meeting next week.

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