CORNWALL – A group of SDG Counties councillors made the push for filling a gap in road paving planned for this summer.
Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) asked Transportation Department staff to look into paving a four kilometre stretch of County Road 7 north east of Dunbar. The section is a gap between two sections of the road that are slated to be resurfaced this year. Resurfacing of the road is set for a 4.6 kilometre section from east of Elma and a two kilometre section between the County Road 7/8 intersection and County Road 43. These two road sections are part of a larger hot-mix resurfacing contract SDG will tender soon.
“Agriculturalists and farmers in Dundas County are concerned about the condition of that road and would at least like Counties Council to entertain fixing all of it, not just part of it, this year,” Byvelds asked council.
This is the second time in two years that Byvelds has pushed for gaps in a road repaving contract to be closed. In 2021, he advocated for a section of County Road 8 south of Froatburn to be added. Among the benefits of this, he said is that as equipment is already on site, setup and mobilization costs are lower than if the unimproved road section is resurfaced in a future year.
Councillors Allan Armstrong and Tony Fraser (both North Dundas) and Kirsten Gardner (South Dundas) all spoke in favour of investigating paving this section of road to close the gap.
SDG Counties has an additional $1.1 million in funding from the provincial government for infrastructure that has not been allocated yet. Council plans to discuss the use of those funds at a later meeting.
“It is a road that needs to be addressed and it needs to be done as soon as possible,” said Armstrong. “It would be very unfortunate to have to leave a four kilometre stretch on a road as used as that.”
He went on to say that the road is widely used, not just by the agriculture community.
Fraser said the county road system is known as a high quality road system.
“It’s a missing link. This is a heavily used corridor,” he explained. “Having that section in between not maintained in the same fashion does not speak well to the high quality roads we have in SDG.”
Gardner said the move to include the missing section of the road spoke to efficiency in government delivering services.
“This is a good use of dollars,” she told council. “If we do the middle in a couple of years you are looking at additional costs.”
Not everyone around the council table was supportive of Byvelds’ push for County Road 7. Councillor Frank Landry (North Stormont) said there were other roads that need attention.
“We spend a lot of money on the strategic plan and asset management. We build up what’s called the four year plan. The last two years we’ve been hearing a lot about the ‘now-need’ roads.” Landry said. “That four extra kilometres of the road, if that was a need it would be on that plan.”
Landry said other roads like County Road 22 to Maxville are on the four year plan but slated for later years.
“There’s needs not only here, there, but everywhere. I just have a hard time making a demand doing that extra four kilometres, again it was not in the plan.”
Transportation Director Ben deHaan explained the road section was not on the official four year plan, but now the Counties has the extra provincial money to decide what to do with.
“There’s pressure everywhere,” Landry said of resident concerns over County roads. “I don’t want to get where [County Road 22] keeps getting pushed off for the ‘now needs’.”
He added that he has a hard time justifying the changes if the existing plans are not being followed by the Counties.
Byvelds said this was not a political move, but a common sense move. “We’d look like idiots if we don’t do the piece in between,” Byvelds said. “This is a problem that needs a common sense solution.”
deHaan offered a compromise solution, to tender the whole 10.6 kilometre section of road from Elma to County Road 43 as a separate contract. Additionally, including the two original sections for the hot mix contract would continue as provisional items if council decided not to tender the whole road.
Transportation staff will bring back costs and a plan for the missing gap of the road paving, to a special SDG Council meeting to be called in February that will be held to decide how to spend the new provincial money.
This article was orignally written for and appeared in The Morrisburg Leader.