Editorial: The road to ruin?

The largest road transfer deal in South Dundas since amalgamation became official last week with both the municipal and county councils approving the transfer of County Road 4. That road, also known as Lakeshore Drive, is now owned solely by the residents of South Dundas. It is the latest in a series of road transfers that began two years ago. The first was the uploading of Upper Canada Road to the county, followed by the recent downloading of County Road 1 in Iroquois, from the roundabout south to the Iroquois Locks.

Road swaps between upper and lower-tier municipalities are supposed to make sense, either from a financial or a development stand point. Swapping Upper Canada Road for County Road 1 made sense. Both are of similar length and complemented each parties existing road network. For the counties, Upper Canada Road completed County Road 41; The section of County Road 1 is a stub-end and connects with existing streets in Iroquois. This transfer is a win-win for both parties.

That is not the case for County Road 4. There is no up-side for South Dundas, no trade off or gain.

The transfer agreement pegs the infrastructure liability of County Road 4/Lakeshore Drive at $10-million. While the county and South Dundas have an agreement to fund culvert replacements for the next 10 years if needed, no such agreement is in place for the balance of the infrastructure. South Dundas council agreed to take on $10-million in additional liabilities. There appears to be no real benefit. There is no agreement with the counties to take money that normally would be spent on County Road 4 and spend it on other county roads within South Dundas. The residents of

South Dundas will still pay the same amount of money in taxes to the counties, but thanks to the actions of this council, less of that money will stay in South Dundas.

The South Dundas council, has essentially freed up more money in the budget for roads in Green Valley and Glen Walter. And should Lakeshore Drive, a road with sections built along the side of 170 year old canal works, need upgrading or repair, residents of South Dundas will pay 100 per cent of the bill.

This is the largest infrastructure transfer since amalgamation 20 years ago, and it may well be the biggest legacy of this council term. Is this a good thing?