South Algonquin committee meeting discusses proposed 2021 capital projects

·9 min read

At their Asset Management and Waste Management committee meeting on Feb. 17, South Algonquin Township discussed their upcoming 2021 Capital Projects. Public Works Superintendent Dave Gatley took the committee, chaired by Councillor Joe Florent, through the list of projects the public works department has budgeted to get completed this year and the estimated cost to the township.

After being given the floor by Florent, Gatley called up the list of proposed capital projects that his public works department would be doing or having some involvement with in 2021. He began by talking about the purchase of the Asset Management software, which would cost an estimated $20,000 and the Main Street signage, which Gatley believed would be limited to brushing or doing some layout for the signs, which would cost around $15,970.

Gatley went on to tell the committee about the purchase of dry hydrants for the fire department, with an estimated cost of $60,000. Dry hydrants are permanently installed in lakes and streams, and this non pressurized hydrant system give firefighters a ready source of water to fight fires in rural areas. At the meeting, he didn’t know where they were going to be located but when they do know, he said there will have to be some design work done.

“Last time, I reached out to a consultant that gave an aerial image for the installed hydrants and then I went to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for permits and then public works went and installed them. It went really well. I assume that process would start again,” he says.

Next up, Gatley talked about transportation services, which are scheduled for replacement or an upgrade in the township’s Asset Management Plan. The rehabilitation of the Airy Pedestrian Bridge, which the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual (a manual that dictates the procedures and requirements for inspecting bridges) estimated would cost $49,000, will be part of a larger project if the township gets a COVID-19 related grant they applied for, according to Gatley. Holly Hayes, the clerk and treasurer, when asked about this, had not heard anything about it yet, but had received confirmation that the township’s application had been received. She suspected it would be announced around the time the Ontario budget is revealed.

The McRae Hay Lake Road is due for a replacement of its surface and drainage components, estimated to cost $940,000. Gatley said he’d had a look at it and it’s 4.7 kilometres to resurface.

“It looks like the asphalt numbers will be on the high side this year from what I’ve been hearing back. Approximately $600,000 is for paving alone, about $200,000 in gravel and some contingencies and considerations for drainage improvements. One of the things that came up in discussions with staff was the condition of the culvert at the causeway where there was the wash out in 2012. I did make some contingency allowances if we have to get in and change that pipe,” he says.

However, he also indicated that the cost of doing that repair would lend itself more to being part of the Road Needs Study and looking at financing it over time, or even looking into a grant to cover it.

The engineering drawings for Hay Creek Road were estimated to cost around $15,000, and Gatley said he had some quotations on that and that they were coming in within the estimated cost so far.

Under the umbrella of additional projects for 2021, Gatley provided information on the Annual Road and Drainage Improvements Program, and said that of the $60,000 available from 2020, $50,000 would carry over into this year, as they didn’t do a lot with it last year. The Road Needs Study was estimated to cost $16,000; the traffic counts will cost approximately $11,000 and an estimated $7,500 will go toward the sign inventory. Gatley said of the quotes he had gotten in on these items, all were coming in within the budgeted amounts.

Next, Gatley spoke about the need to replace the outhouse facilities at Galeairy Lake Park, which will cost an estimated $40,000.

“We’ve upped the budget on the washrooms based on the tenders we received. I do think we can take advantage of the redesign we talked about last year and going to block and using subcontractors. The tank has been built and it’s sitting in the precast yard so it accounts for about $8,000 of that [$40,000 estimated cost]. I think if we did go with the architectural block route we talked about, we’d come in under budget. If push comes to shove, that budget would allow us to go to tender and at least get that project completed,” he says.

Public bench acquisition and installation at various locations around the township will run around $6,200, while new picnic tables for the township’s parks will cost an estimated $5,000. Gatley says they’ll be ordering them shortly and putting them together as the weather improves. Both the Whitney Library and the Lester Smith Building really need their asphalt shingles replaced this year, at an estimated cost of $11,000 and $30,000 respectively.

Gatley then turned the committee’s attention to the list of vehicles and equipment that public works uses that are due for replacement or an upgrade. The loader, which was way overdue for replacement, is still performing well and its maintenance costs are low at $2,300 per year. Gatley recommended doing a little more work to the bucket this year but did not think it needed to be replaced immediately. The cost to replace it would be $300,000. The tandem truck, which was replaced last year, has been invaluable this year with COVID-19 restrictions in order to keep the public works staff separated a bit, according to Gatley. He also thought it was great in that it had improved service and response times, and its maintenance costs were stabilizing for its age and were pegged at $31,300 per year. The replacement cost for it would also be $300,000. The single axel truck has already been replaced at a cost of $75,000, and the township is just waiting for delivery, expected to be in the Fall of 2021. While the old truck is still performing, its maintenance costs are becoming a bit high, at $15,600 every year. The pickup truck was due to be replaced in 2019 but it is still holding its own and its maintenance costs are acceptable, according to Gatley, at $4,100 per year. Its replacement cost would be $40,000.

There was also a proposed new acquisition brought up by Gatley, which he brought back to the table from two years ago. It was a 2,600-gallon slide in water tanker with an estimated cost of $30,000.

“It could be used in the tandem truck to help us with our sand sweeping operations. Since we had to get rid of the old Airy Township fire truck that we used to use, we’ve been having to rent a water truck, which is costing us between $3,500 and $4,000 a season,” he says.

Availability is also hit and miss on those rental water trucks, and Gatley says that he took the proposed water tank purchase out of the budget last year because there were none available at that time.

“However, they are telling me that there would be one available for the springtime for our sand sweeping operations. So, I’ve put that back on the list for consideration,” he says.

Gatley concluded his presentation and Florent thanked him. He asked if there were any questions.

Councillor Richard Shalla had a question about the Main Street signage and its cost. Gatley and Hayes clarified that the cost was not part of the public works budget, although they’d be doing the work. Shalla also had a question about the culvert that Gatley had mentioned earlier that needed to be replaced. He asked if putting in a liner to fix the pipe would be feasible instead of replacing the whole thing. Gatley said he hadn’t looked at it closely enough yet to make that determination but he admitted that a liner would be preferable to having to dig up and replace the entire culvert. He said he’d be looking into it.

Mayor Jane Dumas suggested to Gatley that the building inspector should have a look at the gazebo at Galaiery Lake Dam, as it was in bad shape. He agreed and said it could be done under park maintenance, although he didn’t have any repair numbers yet.

Gatley brought up a final matter; a streetlight replacement on Paradise Road, which had been pending for five years.

“I heard back and I’ve got the numbers. It looks to be a reasonable cost to do it, and could be done under road improvements,” he says.

Hayes then interjected, bringing up what she called the “elephant in the room;” the nearly $1 million projected cost to redo McRae Hay Lake Road.

“We should look at getting a grant, as without that or something else, we’d be looking at a 36 per cent tax increase to do it. I think council needs to have that discussion about either prioritizing it or looking at getting a grant or doing the project in stages where it will take a couple of years,” she says.

Florent suggested tabling it for 2021 at least and looking into getting a grant to cover at least some of the cost.

“Maybe we could look at doing some spot improvements like culvert replacement and things like that, and investigating fixing the culvert where the washout occurred back years ago. We should keep our eyes and ears open for a grant, as that cost is prohibitive. If we can get it paid for by the government, at least in part, instead of us, that’d be better,” he says.

Everyone on the committee agreed with that assessment and resolved to look into procuring a government grant for the McRae Hay Lake Road rehabilitation. With that consensus, they moved on to other business.

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times