South Dundas dips into Brinston road damage money for urban areas

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

MORRISBURG – A decision on what roads to repair in urban settlement areas of South Dundas quickly digressed into whether compensation money from EDP Renewables was for the Brinston-area or for the entire township.

Some councillors crossed swords Tuesday night over how some of the $868,500 should be used on roads in the villages of Morrisburg and Iroquois.

The money was given to the township from EDP in March for road damage during construction of the South Branch Wind Farm project, namely the Irish Headline Road.

In the end, council agreed to use $100,000 of it, along with $214,000 in taxation reserves to fix up Beach Avenue and Island Park Drive in Iroquois, and Merkley Street in Morrisburg.

It should be noted that settlement money for road damage is not the 20-year South Branch Community Benefit Fund.

At the request of council to look at fixing up urban roads, Public Works Manager Chris Bazinet had been looking to fix a half dozen roads to the tune of $478,819. Left off the list, for now, are Elizabeth Drive, St. Lawrence Street and Canada Way.

“I have travelled all six of these streets and they need work – no question about it. But I have a problem using that EDP money outside of the host area,” Deputy Mayor Jim Locke said, “Taking $475,000 of that money and putting it into the (urban) roads I don’t think is right.”

As for the road the EDP money was meant to cover for road damage – Irish Headline Road – Bazinet suggested the road is not ready to be repaired and that North Dundas has not budgeted to fix the shared road (maintenance of Irish Headline Road is part of a 50-50 cost sharing agreement agreement between North and South Dundas).

Bazinet also suggested that EDP may have more heavy traffic on the road soon as it reviews some problems with windmill bearings and trucks moving in equipment could cause further road damage.

“Are we going to do it this year? I’d rather wait,” Bazinet told council. “Irish Headline doesn’t need to be done today – it just doesn’t.” The public works manager suggested, if it was his choice, he would have left the entire $868,500 in the bank until the damaged roads near the wind farm needed repairs.

But Coun. Ewing suggested the EDP money should be spent on all roads in the township. “I know we have to start doing some work on the streets in town,” Iroquois Coun. Bill Ewing said. “I know the EDP money is municipal money…it’s the municipality of South Dundas doing all of the repairs to all of South Dundas. Iroquois money wasn’t just kept to Iroquois. It’s money from South Dundas,” he said.

Coun. Archie Mellan said he agrees with the concept of spending the EDP money in Iroquois and Morrisburg – but to a limit of $100,000.

However, Mellan is more concerned about the east-west portion of Coons Road, which falls in the EDP host area. “That road needs to be widened, it needs ditching and it needs the trees cut and it needs to be brushed,” he said. “We got to build that road up. Right now farming equipment can’t get down there, milk trucks, tractor-trailers or any trucks,” Mellan said.

Mellan also wanted work done this year on Irish Headline Road.

He also suggested that, in future, the urban roads should be in the roads budget. “If you go back north, there’s not a lot of people very impressed with that money…going to be put in Iroquois and Morrisburg. You would imagine the outcry you would have if Iroquois and Morrisburg had found money, somewhere, and we spent it back north – that dog don’t fly,” Mellan said.

Mayor Evonne Delegarde was asked by Cornwall Newswatch about where the EDP money for road damage was supposed to be used. “I don’t think it specifically stated in the EDP settlement at the time that it had to be specific roads. It was to the municipality of South Dundas. I don’t think it was ever specifically stated exactly what roads that the money had to be used on,” the mayor said in an interview with CNW.

Delegarde pointed to the county, which has suggested they will use their portion of the money in South Dundas for County Road 4 “but they’ve never brought it.”

“It was not in black in white as to specifically what roads we can use (the money on),” she said. “We’re trying to get away from this territorial “you” and “us” and “them” and we have all somehow suffered with the wind turbines,” Delegarde stated.

In making its decision on the three urban roads, South Dundas council later came to the realization that no decision had been made on upgrading Coons Road.

A report on that road will be coming to a future meeting.

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