Proposed downloading of county roads splits council

May 20, 2015   ·   0 Comments

It looks like Dufferin County will be taking a little longer to decide whether downloading some county roads to the local municipalities is the right plan of action.

At last Thursday night’s County Council meeting, members of Council listened to a report from C.C. Tatham & Associates  regarding a rationalization study about the current ownership of County Road. The report was the first part of a study being conducted to look at the feasibility as well as cost impact on downloading these roads to the local municipalities.

The study examined all 60 roads that fall under Dufferin County jurisdiction and applied a number of criteria to determine whether those roads should continue to be County roads, or whether they should be downloaded. The three steps to make their determination included Criteria Based Assessment, a Principle Based Assessment and a Special Considerations Review.

The results of the review were that 15 of the 60 County Roads did not meet the criteria for remaining as a county road, and two roads currently run by municipalities (including Orangeville’s Riddell Road) were identified as potential County Roads.

Following the presentation, members of County Council discussed the next step, and whether they should continue to finish the study and examine the financial impact on each of the municipalities or move forward with the recommendations made in the first portion of the study.

Mono Mayor Laura Ryan, whose town would face downloading of Dufferin Road 8 (Mono Centre Road) expressed a concern that the situation the County is now facing with its roads is due to a continual shirking of duties by County Council, which came in the form of gutting the public works budget each year to fund other areas.

“This is the result of that,” she said. “To that end, I take responsibility. It is our duty to look after our infrastructure. In Mono, we feel that the Report is still flawed in process, concept and principle.”

She moved that County Council accept a motion sent that day by email, outlining what she felt were flaws in the Dufferin County Road Network Rationalization Plan, recommending that the plan be received, but that it only be used as a reference document for consideration in a number of individual circumstances, which were outlined in the email. The motion was seconded by Mono’s Deputy Mayor, Ken McGhee.

Don MacIver, Mayor of Amaranth, which would face downloading of County Road 12, spoke in support of the motion and of Mayor Ryan’s concerns regarding the current roads situation.

“I was one of the instigators many years ago to encourage to develop an integrated plan,” he explained. “But the primary goal at that point was to remove bottlenecks. I don’t see any solutions in this plan. I’m also concerned that there was no opportunity for public input at the first stage, which I think is a terrible error.”

He continued, saying people “are extremely aware of their roads and bridges. It is the biggest ticket item in each municipality. I would argue for a longer review period.”

A major issue from Mayor MacIver’s stance is that compensation and the costs to each municipality needs to be at the forefront of the discussion.

“I formally request that we have access to all staff reports in terms of the condition of all structures and roads,” he said. “We don’t want roads that may fall into the poor categories to be dumped on the municipalities. I want to see the condition and make sure they are in A-1 condition before we consider acquiring them.”

Although Melancthon Mayor Darren White spoke against accepting responsibility for the roads situation on grounds he had been continually pushing against gutting the Public Works budget, he agreed that more information would be needed before putting the study into action.

“I support the premise of this study and I support the work being done,” said Mayor White. “I’m not saying let’s vote and start digging up roads now, but we need more information. I think it calls for public input, visits to local municipalities. As it stands right now, my municipality doesn’t have an issue, but I’m not prepared to stay let’s just stop – I think that’s irresponsible.”

Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams supported the first part of the motion, but felt that the second portion should only be received.

“I just really don’t like where we’re going with the roads and moving them around,” he said. “I’m not sure what the reason was when we first went down this path, and I really wish I had received this email earlier. I don’t like that it was received at the last minute. This needs to be discussed further, as it has big ramifications for other municipalities.”

The motion failed, and Mayor Williams made a motion to receive the report.

Warden Warren Maycock, Orangeville’s deputy mayor, spoke up during this discussion, which was unusual for him, pointing out that the motion on the agenda was to continue with the study and the process.

“I am not tied to downloading or uploading any roads,” Warden Maycock said. “The previous council thought it was a good idea, and this is just about moving forward. It would be foolhardy to stop.”

The motion by the Warden to adopt the recommendation to continue the study carried 18 votes to 13.

The next step will see the reports passed on to the municipalities for discussion, as well as find out the impact of downloading on the affected municipalities.

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