MARIATOWN – South Dundas and the United Counties of SD&G have reached a road insurance deal as part of an exchange of three roads within the municipality.
It comes as the deal – two years in the making – was in the final stages of a road transfer agreement. New concerns cropped up last month about potentially expensive work along County Road 4 (Lakeshore Drive).
The trade saw Upper Canada Road (now called SDG 41) go to the county in exchange for South Dundas taking on a section of County Road 1 (Carmen Road South) as well as County Road 4 (Lakeshore Drive). The deal was not a swap because both governments had to bring the roads up to reasonable standards before the exchange.
South Dundas representatives were worried its taxpayers could be on the hook for up to $1.5 million should one or all of three large culverts on Lakeshore Drive fail in the next five years. The county estimates repair costs for the Flagg Creek culvert would be $623,000, the Mariatown culvert would cost $533,000 and the Casselman Creek culvert would be $388,000.
Based on county inspections, Flagg and Mariatown have about five years of life left while Casselman has 10. The total replacement cost would be $1,544,000.
“Yeah, they’re aged pipes,” SD&G Transportation Director Ben de Haan told county council last month.
The Mariatown pipe is under water so it’s on the five year replacement list due to it being built in 1925. It’s so far underwater, the county can’t even adequately inspect it. The actual location of the outlet in the St. Lawrence River is also not known.
“Unfortunately, I can’t even take a picture to demonstrate how submerged it is. You see a fish come up out of the hole every once in a while. Honestly, it’s quite impressive. But, in so saying, it’s working,” de Haan explained.
“The other two (culverts) are corrugated steel pipes that are showing signs of deterioration. We don’t see any evidence of perforation or the ends starting to let go,” de Haan said.
But many councillors felt the county shouldn’t just unload the road on South Dundas.
“I don’t like playing hardball against somebody we’re asking a favour from,” Coun. Eric Duncan said. “South Dundas has said they’re interested in assuming the road but I also don’t think they want a massive liability as well.”
Duncan said, for context, it would be North Dundas’ “entire roads budget on one culvert” should one of them fail.
“We’re kind of concerned especially over the next five years as to what commitment we have to these culverts. There’s still a lot of unknowns with these,” Coun. Evonne Delegarde said.
The mayor of South Dundas added that the municipality is already plowing the road and charging the county for it so it “does fit in with our routes” and it “makes good sense” to add it to South Dundas’ road inventory given the potential growth in the area.
“Five years doesn’t seem like a long time when something is inevitably going to fail,” Coun. Bill McGimpsey added.
Coun. Jim Locke said South Dundas and the county “made a handshake deal, which I’ve operated on all my life.” The deputy mayor of South Dundas suggested, at the time, that staff from both municipalities get together and hammer out a compensation agreement.
That meeting has since taken place and South Dundas formally agreed to the compensation deal during its meeting last week (June 5). It passed road transfer agreements for County Road 4 and the section of County Road 1. The county will formally adopt the deal on Monday (June 18).
For County Road 4 (Lakeshore Drive), the 10 year agreement would see the county pay 100 per cent of the repair cost in year one, 50 per cent in years two through five and then a sliding scale which would reduce by 10 per cent until it reaches zero in 2027 should any of the culverts fail.
The deal officially closes Monday (June 18).