SDG – Major road rebuilding projects remain one of the largest capital funding issues at the United Counties. While SDG’s transportation department has a robust maintenance program to extend the life of existing roads, some roads are beyond repair and need rebuilding.
County councillors heard at the February 16-17 budget deliberations of several roads in need of rebuilding including a section of County Roads 8 and 18 in South Dundas, and County Road 22 in North Glengarry. The 1.1 kilometre section of CR 8 and 18 is being rebuilt in 2021, but CR 22 is a few years off.
Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) proposed a solution to the long term funding woes of capital projects.
“When Counties goes to the next budget, we can go to this list of roads that are not part of our roads plan but are in dire need ,” Byvelds said. “We’ve done really well in saving money for the manors, but what is a project we should look at – I consider that the now roads.”
He cited the condition of roads like County Roads 5, 8, 31 and 22 which are not part of the county’s current four year roads plan.
“This allows us as a county to deal with what we need to deal with and have the money set aside,” Byvelds added.
His motion proposed the creation of a major roads reconstruction capital reserve, and a policy that directs any unspent money from the transportation and roads budget be collected in that reserve for capital projects. This includes any surplus or unused money from projects or where tender bids have come in below the budgeted amount.
In past years, the department would find other uses for the funds towards the end of the construction season, or take on new smaller projects.
Byvelds motion directed staff to create a new policy to set aside funds for the reserve, and come back to council with an inventory of what the transportation and planning department considers its “Now Roads” list.
“I think Councillor Byvelds has come up with a great potential solution here,” said Councillor Carma Williams (North Glengarry).
“I think the solution Councillor Byvelds has put on the table is a very creative way to stop us from having this road conversation where the ones we want to get to just go off into the abyss,” said Councillor Kristen Gardner (South Dundas).
“I fully support any unused funds from roads projects being reallocated to look at the ‘Now Roads’,” Councillor Frank Landry (North Stormont) told council adding that the county’s asset management plan should be looked at to make sure that the roads on the plan are the right priorities.
TPS director Ben deHaan said that if council passed Byvelds’ motion, the department would create a list independent of the current four-year roads plan with roads in need of major work.
“Once we have that list, and that war chest built up, we can pick off that list,” deHaan said.
Councillor Tony Fraser (North Dundas) asked for clarification if the proposed reserve would be the sole source of major road funding moving forward or would there be other sources sought.
Byvelds explained that other “Now” projects were completed using federal gas tax funding received or using existing reserves.
“I’m not saying we can’t dip into other reserves but right now we have no specific reserve to deal with these ‘Now Roads’,” Byvelds replied. “If we don’t start putting money aside for the roads that aren’t part of our four year plan then we’ll never get them done.”
Councillor Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) spoke in support of Byvelds’ proposal.
“At least it’s creating a savings account for some of these things that we don’t get to do and there is some money being dedicated towards this. It somewhat trains this council, and hopefully other councils will stay with it, to be mindful of putting away a savings account, and that’s a good start.”
Council supported Byvelds’ solution, and staff will bring the policy for final approval at the upcoming March 15th meeting.