Minden Hills council voted to proceed with tendering some major projects, including reconstructing IGA Road, when it met April 30.

Director of public works, Travis Wilson, was looking for direction amidst COVID19. “In regards to the continuation of construction with the current restrictions from the province in regards to critical infrastructure,” he said in a report. He also wanted to know how council felt about existing contracts, and if the municipality would consider compensation to contractors should their operations require substantially more money to complete.

The 2020 budget has several rehabilitation, preventative maintenance, and maintenance and construction projects. They include: roads’ resurfacing, the Sunnybrook Bridge, Milburn, Bobcaygeon, IGA and Shetland roads, the Salerno Lake bridge, Scotch Line slopes and closing the Irondale waste disposal site.

Wilson said a number of projects can easily be justified as critical and essential, including resurfacing, Sunnybrook and Salerno Lake Road bridges, Scotch Line slopes and Irondale closure. However, he felt others, such as reconstruction of IGA and Bobcaygeon roads, Shetland Road drainage and Milburn Road bridge, cannot be justified as critical and essential.

“(IGA) Road has been in poor shape for at least 15 years. One additional year will not make this road in any worse condition. The reconstruction will require storm sewer work, which will require close proximity of staff,” he said.

The current direction from the province would classify all of these projects as essential and critical, Wilson said, however, he said the township should be cognizant of the potential risk and health impacts of allowing, and in this case, promoting gatherings of contractors within the municipality.

But Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell said, “Yes, (some roads) have been that way for a long time but I still consider them critical. IGA Road may have looked the way it does for many years but that doesn’t make it any less worthy to be fixed.” She went on to say the township has budgeted for these projects in 2020, understanding they may cost more now depending on COVID-19.

“My recommendation would be that we move forward and we put the tenders out and if they come in astronomically different than we thought they should have been, we don’t have to accept them at this time. But, I’d like to see the current projects for 2020 all move forward and if grant money comes forward in the fall or later, even possibly for next year, that we look at projects we haven’t been able to do due to funding or money in Travis’s department.”

Coun. Bob Carter said as much as he agreed with Schell about trying to get ahead with roads, “at the same time, I think of things such as the Sunnybrook bridge … if it hasn’t been tendered and if there is the possibility of infrastructure money coming, it would seem that it might be a good thing to try to take advantage of that infrastructure money.”

In a recorded vote, the motion passed 5-2. Carter and Coun. Pam Sayne voted against. (Sayne wants work on the Shetland Road drainage done sooner, rather than later). Mayor Brent Devolin, Schell, and Councillors Jennifer Hughey, Jean Neville and Ron Nesbitt voted in favour.

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