MAPLETON – A resident of Sideroad 6 is upset the road has been bumped from the township’s 2022 repaving budget and told council he is considering moving due to ongoing issues with dust and other concerns.
However, faced with inflationary pressure on township finances, council didn’t commit to the project.
In a letter to council Mapleton resident Ron Nelemans said Sideroad 6 between Concession 3 and Line 86 at Tralee had been paved for over 60 years.
“Three homes were built on this road assuming it would always be paved,” he states in the letter.
“The road was neglected, the pavement was pulverized and the road turned to gravel.
“This was to be temporary,” Nelemans said, noting Mayor Gregg Davidson asked residents “if we could just be patient” because the road was already in the budget to be paved in 2022.
However, earlier this year Nelemans said he learned funds for repaving had been diverted to another road project and he was told it was unlikely the road would be paved in 2023 either.
“Because the gravel road is new it is always a cloud of dust unless we get rain,” Nelemans stated.
“Our home is close to the road and all summer we had to keep our windows closed and rely on air conditioning. Our stair railings, deck, lawn and vehicles have a coating of dust.”
Nelemans told council on Oct. 13 his family has been “waiting probably over five years” for a solution.
“It’s very, very frustrating as a ratepayer,” he stated.
“We’re kind of at the point if it doesn’t get any better, we have to move because we can’t live like that.”
“There is a history of this,” said Davidson.
“When it was turned into gravel, the residents were all notified that it was going to be turned into gravel and they were notified that it would be paved.”
Davidson noted the 2021 budget included funds to pave the road in 2022.
However, during the 2022 budgeting process former public works director Sam Mattina “had to re-jig somethings” due to higher-than-expected project costs and prioritization of other projects, Davidson explained.
“It used to be a county road at one time, that’s why it was paved,” said Davidson, noting there are only five homes on the stretch of road in question.
“With our infrastructure deficit … there are a lot of roads that are in need of repair and a lot of roads, like this road that we’re talking about here, that are in desperate need of pavement,” the mayor stated.
CAO Manny Baron said, “We will be faced here, within a few short weeks, with doing the 2023 budget.
“We’re going to be faced with fairly hefty inflationary pressures. The construction index alone is going up 24 per cent year over year.”
Baron said estimates place the cost of the Sideroad 6 project at $490,000.
“Staff present what we feel is the best option as it relates to all ratepayers within Mapleton and the best use of the limited dollars that we do have and it remains out of the budget,” said Baron.
Though he noted council could direct staff to look at ways of restoring funding for the project, Baron said spending that amount of money on a project to benefit residents of five homes, versus a project that would benefit a larger number of ratepayers is “a difficult decision to make, but … we recommend not putting it in the budget.”
“Are there other options like tar and chip? Or is that not considered a viable option anymore? Is it too short-term?” asked councillor Marlene Ottens.
Baron said he had discussed alternatives to asphalt with public works manager Jim Grose.
“Whether we use calcium or tar and chip – tar and chip might have a little bit more life – but it doesn’t address the fact that it’s going to be a little bit more dusty and not as robust as we’re used to,” he explained.
Councillor Dennis Craven said it’s been long-standing township policy to repave roads following construction projects.
“I would really like to see this road be paved again, because it was paved and people put their homes there thinking they would live on a paved road,” Craven stated.
“Now they live in a dustbin. So I would like to see it on the budget for next year at least.”
“I don’t disagree with councillor Craven. There are expectations attached to a level of service,” said councillor Michael Martin.
“That being said, I think we haven’t even started having those tough conversations yet about cost versus level of service and how that impacts the overall residents.”
Martin said he would like to see some options presented on potential solutions.
Nelemans told council the state of the road impacts more than the residents of the five houses located along it.
“There’s about 15 houses in Lebanon. They all come out and use that road and they can’t use it,” he said.
He noted motorists travelling from Milverton along Perth Road 131 normally “come straight through and use that road but now they don’t. They’ve got to go around.”
Nelemans also said any recent traffic counts are misleading.
“It’s a gravel, dusty road. Well, nobody drives on it, because who wants a dirty car?” he stated.
“In the same way, if it was paved, the count would go way up.”
Council received the Neleman’s delegation as information.