Road projects dominate brief session of County Council

May 19, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Dufferin County Council met last Thursday evening to discuss a wide array of events that have occurred in Dufferin. Warden Laura Ryan presided over an efficient meeting, all of the events and discussion being concluded in just over 45 minutes.

The Public Works portion of the agenda discussed the many road projects currently under way in the county. Of particular interest was the removal of bridge number 000101 over the Grand River on the East-West Luther Townline.

The bridge itself was simply an indicator of a larger problem, suggested Amaranth Mayor Don MacIver, who pointed out that these days the cost of replacing bridges is exorbitant.

“In fact,” he said, “there was a tremendous increase in terms of construction costs due to staff estimates being too low”.

Mr. MacIver made it clear that he was not criticizing staff. “They are bringing forward good works. The issue lies in the fact that bridge prices are a quantum leap higher than roads.

“In fact, the lowest bid (for bridges) typically comes in $200-$300,000 more than the estimate put forth by staff”.

The councillor eloquently stated his case that staff should simply look into this, since the future of bridge replacements in Dufferin depended on reasonable construction costs.

“How will the county keep pace with this?” he posed.

Melancthon Mayor Darren White agreed with him and spoke of a project in Melancthon that he and his staff were able to reduce from $300,000 to approximately $150,000 simply by contracting the project out and utilizing the staff to do some of the work themselves.

In other business, Mono Deputy Mayor Ken McGhee shared his concerns about current construction being performed on Highway 89. He said the rehabilitation work has created a safety hazard that at times “will not allow you to see down the highway due to dust”.

In his opinion, the construction represents a major concern for the health and safety of nearby residents. Although County staff had followed up with the Ministry of Transportation at his behest, all reports back to County Council showed that the Ministry was satisfied with the pace and safety of the work being performed. Mr. McGee said he was “surprised there was no accident on that stretch of road due to the number of trucks going through there.”Perhaps the most controversial item of the night was when Orangeville Councillor Nick Garisto asked County Council to help fund the reinstatement of the flagpole at Highway 10 and Broadway.

Mayor White discussed his history regarding the flagpole, describing his youth in Newfoundland where many displayed the provincial flag right beside the Canadian flag. People there were proud of their heritage and their country.

Mayor White said that when he moved to Ontario he was struck by the gigantic flag in Orangeville and saw it as a wonderful sign of patriotism on his journey from Toronto to Markdale.

The flag display made him think that the people of Orangeville must be “really proud,” and when it was necessary for the flag to come down, he was saddened.

But on concluding his personal story, Mayor White admitted that he was not certain the county should write a cheque. Instead he suggested that the issue be referred to Dufferin county’s Canada 150 Year committee to determine the next course of action.

Amaranth Deputy Mayor Jane Aultman,  pressed Mr.Garisto to share how much the flag raising committee had raised thus far. Mr. Garisto said about $11,000 of the $44,000 needed had been raised thus far.

The Amaranth Deputy Mayor pushed on asking how much Orangeville had pledged to the project. The answer was that Orangeville Council had not put in any money towards the project of a new flag.

Ms. Aultman was not amused. “I can’t get my head around the $40,000 ask. Why has Orangeville put forward no money to this project thus far?”

Warden Ryan ended the discussion and pushed forward the motion to move further discussion to the Canada 150 Committee.

Mayor White, who has an educational background in Environmental Science and has taken training in Environmental Law and Policy, took exception to Item 7.2 on the agenda, in which the Township of Wainfleet sought support for its move to have Ontario cancel the Request for Proposal for added wind power generation.

Mayor White wanted everyone to know that he was “not against green energy” but said hydro in Ontario “is now the most expensive in North America. We cannot promote our province when people are not able to pay their hydro bills. It has been 10 years of being asked to conserve energy and now we pay more.” The motion to support Wainfleet was passed.

The brisk meeting ended with a discussion regarding potential donations to the fire disaster in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Amaranth Mayor MacIver suggested that since council had previously donated to a much smaller disaster in Goderich, contributing to Alberta was simply something that should be undertaken. At his suggestion Council agreed to donate $5,000 to the Canadian Red Cross, with the intention that the federal government would match that amount.

Warden Ryan adjourned the successful meeting at 7:48 p.m.

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