September 12th, 2017 by

Council ditches motion to take road tour ahead of 2018 budget talks

Commissioner of Engineering, Development and Works Robert McAuley. (File photo: Nicole Kleinsteuber/Quinte News)

The system which Prince Edward County staff uses to prioritize road work within the municipality took centre stage over a light council agenda Tuesday night.

Councillor Roy Pennell tabled a motion suggesting council take a tour to assess the needs of County roads ahead of 2018 capital budget deliberations that are just around the corner.  The depleting state of some of the County’s 1,100 kilometres in roads and finding the budget dollars to fix them have been controversial topics during past budget talks.  Years ago, council took a road tour and following that an asset management plan was developed utilizing a software program that rates road and sidewalk conditions 1 through 10.  (1 being the worst and 10 the best)  It also takes variables such as location and traffic volume into consideration before staff suggests to council which should ones be repaired first. Council has also developed two and five year capital plans to address aging infrastructure.

Pennell stated his constituents often ask him ‘what staff is doing?’ when it comes to deciding which roads are fixed first.

“We can’t just sit on our hands and wait for the province to fix them,” said Pennell.  “We have to start clearly planning for the future of roads that’s council’s job.”

Half of the horseshoe agreed with Pennell that more information regarding how roads get put on and taken off ‘the list’ would be helpful, however in a split recorded vote of six to six the motion was lost.  (Councillors in favour: Brad Nieman, Dianne O’Brien, Roy Pennell, Jamie Forrester, David Harrison and Janice Maynard. Councillors opposed: Barry Turpin, Jim Dunlop, Lenny Epstein, Steve Fergueson, Steve Graham and Mayor Robert Quaiff.)

Pennell told Quinte News he was a little disappointed with council’s decision, but he and some other councillors still plan on renting a van and going on the tour to get a first hand look.

Roy Pennell

Mayor Robert Quaiff voted against the motion because he said when council took the tour years ago he found the debate over which roads should be fixed first turned ‘too political’ pitting ward against ward.

Mayor Robert Quaiff

Currently staff assess the roads by using  the manual from the Transportation Association of Canada.

“We look at everything the road might need such as ditch improvements, whether they have an excessive amount of breakage on the surface and what the ride on the road is like,” said Commissioner of Engineering Development and Works Robert McAuley.

He told the horseshoe that he too thinks the current system is working but he added the financial analysis component is missing.

“How do you best spend a dollar?” McAuley asked.  “Is it this road or that road?  What is your best return on investment?  You’re comparing one road against another using different parameters and it’s exhaustive computer work.

Robert McAuley

When it comes to the depleting County Road 49, which is staled for an engineer’s technical review, McAuley said they are still working on tenders to hire an engineer.  The roadway that connects the County to Tyendinaga Territory is slated for 2018 budget talks and is estimated to require $21 million in repairs.

In the meantime, the asset management plan that outlines staff’s system of prioritizing the order in which roads will undergo work is being sent out to council for further clarification.

In other business, council awarded the tender to repair the existing rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and flat roofing system at Shire Hall.

The contract for $254,784 in work was awarded to Hamilton Smith Ltd out of Belleville.

A staff report outlined how the existing system was installed in 1982 when the addition was constructed.

“The current HVAC unit has far surpassed its useful lifespan resulting in costly unscheduled repairs, increased maintenance and an uncomfortable work environment for staff,” the report stated.  “Installed in 1982, the flat roof is in poor condition and leaks which has created significant water damage in various areas of the building.”

Following closed session proceedings Tuesday night, council approved selling a portion of land located on the north side of Clarke Road in Hallowell.

Details surrounding the sale including a price tag were not made available upon request to Quinte News.

County Clerk Kim Whyte said further information should be made public at the next council meeting set for September 21 at Shire Hall.