The South Algonquin Asset Management Committee, chaired by Councillor Joe Florent, discussed their 2021 capital projects at their meeting on June 30. Dave Gatley, the roads superintendent, took them through this year’s projects and when they were expected to be completed. These included work on McCauley Lake Road, Shields Road, Aylen Lake Road, the Airy Trestle, getting the Roads Needs Study done, implementing the Branding Plan signage, the installation of dry hydrants and the installation of a streetlight on Paradise Road.
Gatley took the committee through the projects being worked on for 2021. He started off by telling them that they had been on track to finish the liquid calcium applications on the township roadways by the July 1 weekend, but the heavy rainfall since June 26 had made that plan go awry. The rain had caused heavy erosion damage and just about every road needs to be regraded to some degree to rectify this. He said he and his team were putting in extra hours with the grader to fill in and smooth out the affected roads.
Gatley told them that the work on McCauley Lake Road was almost complete and would be done in another week or so. He said they had changed three pipes and there had been a significant improvement.
“I don’t know if anyone has had a chance to be up in that area but we did have a plow truck a number of years ago, and those kinds of problems have been taken care of. We’re getting some positive feedback from the local residents and I think it’s going to help us reduce maintenance to the area. It’s been a good job,” he says.
After they finish up with McCauley Lake Road, they’ll move on to working on Shields Road, which will coincide with the Aylen Lake Road asphalt repairs from the beaver dam washout last season. Gatley said they could take care of the latter on the way in to work on Shields Road or on the way out, depending upon the contractor’s schedule.
The Airy trestle tender closed on June 24 and the bids received were significantly over budget, according to Gatley. The trestle, which Councillor Bongo Bongo has said makes Whitney truly unique, was estimated to cost around $49,000 according to the Ontario Structure Inspection Manual, and will be supplemented by the COVID-19 Resilient Infrastructure Stream, a grant that the township successfully applied for. According to the general description of the work in documents on the township website, the contractor undertaking this work is expected to remove and replace the bridge’s timber railings, curbs and decking and also make other erosion control and slope protection improvements to the structure.
Gatley said he’s been working with the engineer from Jewell Engineering and he did have some questions about the bidders’ material choices when they put the tender together.
“They are now looking at some redesign and some local wood sources that should be a lot more economical and we’re working with the bidders to determine a viable solution going forward,” he says.
Gatley says he hopes to have some positive news by the council meeting on July 7.
A successful engineering proposal was determined for the Hay Lake Road reconstruction, and the proposed work is within the $15,000 budget, according to Gatley. They intend to begin the survey work by the week of July 5 or the week after.
Gatley told the committee that they’d gotten three proposals for the Roads Needs Study, which was budgeted for $16,000. He says there are two that they’re determining which would best suit the township’s needs, as they’re very similar, even pricewise.
“I should be able to work through that and get it under way after next week. I’ve had discussions with them about the signs and how they’d go about that. There are some options I can share with you,” he says.
Councillor Richard Shalla expressed concerns about some of the road curves not being signed. Gatley said they do have a way to go in and measure them and complete the sign work.
“So that along with the traffic study will be some great information for us to help us put our Asset Management Plan into a little more compliant state than it has been,” he says.
Gatley also gave an update on the branding plan signage for the township. He said the contractor has been working on getting the township proofs on the regulatory parts. There are a few of the branding signs that still need these proofs and then they’ll be ready to go. He said they were also working on getting some information on the MTO permit status with regard to one road sign coming from the east gate of Algonquin Park. He said the MTO has a restriction to keep the sign 300 metres from any other billboard and it can’t be in a curve less than 1,000 feet in diameter. He acknowledged there wasn’t much of an area to put said sign and that he’d proposed a location to MTO but was still waiting to get a confirmation.
Gatley also put forward putting up branding signs where people enter a facility, and he had three locations in mind. They were; Whitney Beach, Aylen Lake Boat Launch and the Hay Lake Boat Launch. In addition to letting visitors know where they were, putting a sign up also makes people realize that the regulations apply to the whole site, according to Gatley. For example, at the Hay Lake Boat Launch, such a sign would dissuade people from camping there, as there has been an issue with this and it is prohibited.
Next up, Gatley told council about the process they were going through to install dry hydrants at locations around the municipality. Dry hydrants use a non pressurized pipe system, permanently installed and connected to a nearby lake or river, for fire fighters to access water from this water source in the event of a fire.
Gatley said he’d been looking around with Don [Kruger, the township’s fire chief] and they had a look at five potential locations. They were; McRae Hay Lake Road, Moore’s Creek Bridge on the North McKenzie Lake Road, Cross Lake down at the boat ramp, in Madawaska as people head into the landfill site and at Aylen Lake Dam. While some of these sites were not ideal, Gatley did say that three of them would work out well if the committee wanted to save money and prioritize only a few for this year; McCrae Hay Lake Road, Moore’s Creek Bridge and the Aylen Lake Dam site.
“I’d like to start the process with the MNRF because it doesn’t move fast typically. I guess I’d be looking for consensus that these would be the top three choices if we had to pick and choose,” he says.
The committee agreed unanimously with these choices and told Gatley to go ahead with them. Gatley off ered up another small update, on the streetlight on Paradise Road, an issue that has been ongoing for two and a half years. He said they received a contract from Hydro One about a month and a half ago, and they gave the township a very good price to install the pole and the transformer.
“They left out simply putting up the streetlight we had, so we worked through that last little detail and it is going ahead now. I don’t have a start date but we have a contract in place and I’ve been in contact with them. It revolves around the ESA approval, because Hydro One does our work and typically the ESA approval is initiated by the contractor. Since there is no contractor, we just had to work out how to deal with that. But it is all solved and we hope to see some action on it shortly,” he says.
With that comment, Gatley finished his update on the 2021 capital projects. Florent thanked him and the committee moved on to other business.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times