Hit and Run may leave taxpayers footing the bill

Eganville -- A hit and run that took out a sign at the tourist information booth as well as a fire hydrant on a cold November night will come at a cost to taxpayers.

“Why was it not a geyser?” Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy asked at a committee meeting of council last Tuesday afternoon.

Recreation Manager Kevin McGrath said the valve shut off was down into the ground deep enough it did not trigger the water to come on.

Councillor Brent Patrick said he was also amazed there was not more damage with the hydrant being destroyed in the collision.

“We are fortunate it did not affect the line,” he said.

Mayor Murphy said it would have been a real mess if the water had been spewing out because it was a cold night.

“With that temperature, I cannot even imagine,” she said.

The collision occurred in the early evening hours of Tuesday, November 21 with a van taking out the information sign and the hydrant, causing extensive damage to the vehicle. The driver fled the scene and the vehicle was left at the scene and later towed away.

“I assume we are looking for insurance for the sign and the fire hydrant,” the mayor said.

However, CAO Annette Gilchrist said the township’s own insurance will come into effect first and pay for the damage.

“Our deductible comes off first,” she said. “It is $25,000.”

“That is unfortunate,” the mayor said.

If the cost of replacing the hydrant and sign is more than the deductible, they can file a claim, she said.

The township is looking at quotes for the hydrant. If the total is more than $25,000 they will look into going after the insurance of the driver as well, she said.

Mayor Murphy said since the valve was not damaged in the accident, that should mitigate the cost of replacing the hydrant.

“The sign itself came out very lucky,” Mr. McGrath said.

Mayor Murphy said the sign could have a different look similar to McRae Park. She pointed out this can also be an opportunity to design a new sign infrastructure for the tourist information centre.

Mr. McGrath said there was security footage on the scene and this has been handed over to the Ontario Provincial Police. On Monday he told the Leader he had not received any more information about the incident, including whether someone was charged, and it was in the hands of the police.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader