MAPLETON – After some disagreement, on Sept. 10 council approved adding $46,400 in additional funding (before HST) for a new crossover crosswalk on Andrews Drive and Wellington Road 11 in Drayton.
The work will be broken into different components, with Job-Inc Contracting of Kitchener responsible for the majority of the work, at an updated total cost of $69,400.
The remainder, including sidewalks and signs, will be completed by a local third party and the county.
In 2017 Mapleton council approved installation of a pedestrian crosswalk at the site, to be paid for by the township with ownership, operation and maintenance transferred to the county once it is built.
Township staff had budgeted an estimated $23,000 for the project. An engineers’ estimate of $37,000 was returned by RJ Burnside Associates after the budget process deadline.
Job-Inc was asking for a further $46,400 on top of the budgeted amount before it starts work on the crosswalk.
Councillor Martin argued the township should not have to pay for the crosswalk as it is on a county road. He opposed providing additional township funds.
“I agree that we need a crosswalk; we have all had this conversation ad nauseam,” Martin said.
“I continue to struggle with the fact that it’s a county road … I don’t understand why they are not paying for it themselves.
“Our Drayton and Mapleton taxpayers are essentially paying twice for this just by the nature of how the levy is split up.”
He asked if there was any cost saving measures council could employ.
“I don’t understand why it is not done already. What is so complicated about putting up a blinky sign and painting across the road? It confuses me, it really does,” Martin said.
Mayor Gregg Davidson explained it is not a county policy to put in crosswalks.
“It is a battle and a conversation I’ve been having for a number of years and it is one that I will continue having,” said Davidson.
“It will take a county council to make that change and it hasn’t happened yet.”
Davidson explained public works director Sam Mattina reached out to several companies after the tender process returned without a bid and found that companies would only be willing to take on the project for $80,000.
“So the difficulty is getting these companies to come out to a small community like ours to do the work,” Davidson said.
At that point, township staff received help from the county’s roads department staff to break up the contract into smaller components.
“The process successfully returned a reasonable quote by Job-Inc Contracting of Kitchener for the major components of the project, which would be supplemented by sidewalk work by a local third party and line and signage work performed by the County of Wellington,” states the report by Mattina.
The process of breaking up the contract took four months.
With approval of additional funding from the township construction of the crosswalk was set to begin in October.
“I think it’s been three years now, at least, that this has been ongoing,” said Davidson. “The community has been asking for this; I get emails and messages all the time about this, and in my opinion we have let it go way too long now.”
He added, “I am not for deferring this one at all, I think we need to get it done and it’s a lot less money doing it this way with the county, doing piecemeal … it’s still less money than the $80,000-plus that we were getting quoted on.”
Councillor Dennis Craven also voiced his frustration with policy, as the county only permits crosswalks on county roads after a vehicle/pedestrian volume study is completed.
While council discussed paying for the crosswalk on the county road in Drayton, Craven noted there are other roads in Alma that need crosswalks.
“I am a little bit confused. We are going to spend $46,000 on this one but we’ve got kids crossing a couple of busy county roads in Alma and there is no protection for them at all,” Craven said.
“We actually had a guy offer to pay to paint a crosswalk on [Wellington Road 17] in Alma out of his own personal pocket, but that was refused, I suppose at the county level. I am a little confused as to what kids are more important to protect over others.”
Davidson reiterated it would take an order from council at the county level to change the policy.
“That’s not to say that we can’t keep pushing to have that changed,” he added.
Following the completion of the crosswalk this fall the crossing guard currently stationed on Edward Street at Wellington Road 11 will be relocated to the new crosswalk location.
“I like the idea of the crosswalk but I question the relocation of the crossing guard,” said councillor Paul Douglas.
“I have actually heard a lot of feedback about this and I don’t know how everybody knows we are looking at moving the crossing guard, but it’s pretty common knowledge among the school parents.”
Douglas said there is concern there won’t be a crossing guard at the Edward Street location.
CAO Manny Baron acknowledged Douglas’ concern but said it is common practice to station crossing guards at crosswalks.
“I can’t think I’ve ever in my experience in other municipalities seen a crossing guard where there is not a crosswalk …” said Baron.
Martin said he respects the county’s use of data collection to determine the need for crosswalks – but that process, he said, just reinforces his point that the county should pay once it determines a road is unsafe to cross.
“I think if we support this and pay for this, it should be, in my opinion, precedent setting,” Martin said.
“I would not want to say, ‘no we are not doing this’ to show an example to the county, at the expense of people’s safety,” said Davidson.
Councillor Marlene Ottens echoed Davidson’s comments.
“All I am going to say about the crosswalk is it’s long overdue … and I agree with councillor Martin, why should we pay? But all the other municipalities are paying and I don’t think this is the hill I want to die on,” said Ottens.
Council approved the additional crosswalk funding with an amendment to direct staff to study where the crossing guard, currently situated on Edward Street, should be stationed.
Martin was the only councillor opposed to the recommendation.