Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rocky roads cause rocky debate at Timmins city hall

The debate was as bumpy as some local potholes, but Timmins city council has approved a plan for which roads are scheduled for major repairs this year.
Not all councillors voted for the new roads program. Ward Three councillor Bill Gvozdanovic, noting that his Schumacher-area ward was largely ignored, said he could not vote in favour.
There is roughly $4.5 million available for road repairs. Originally the city had only $3.3 million. The province has come through with a one-time grant of 1.1 million and there is $225,000 for connecting link repairs for areas where city roads connect with provincial highways.
Gvozdanovic wondered why his ward was being left out, even after the extra money was provided by Queen’s Park.
“For two years we got nothing in the roads program, then all of a sudden we get an extra 1.1 million dollars and still nothing! What am I supposed to tell the people in Ward Three?” said Gvozdanovic spreading his arms in exasperation.
Gvozdanovic said it has been two years with the current council and one year with the previous council that his ward has been ignored.
“So what you’re telling me is you get 1.1 million dollars all of a sudden Shirley Street gets 75 thousand dollars, Government Road north, another 75 thousand dollars, Sandy Falls Road another 75 thousand dollars,” he asked. “If we are, you know, going with this rural roads strategy, why are we extending all the way out into those areas,” Gvozdanovic asked.
“It’s terrible as far as I am concerned. What I am supposed to do … just sit here and say’yeah it’s a good idea’.”
One reason for the disappointment was that work has been postponed on Vipond Road. It was explained that because new water lines and a booster station are being installed, no work is planned for Vipond until the city knows exactly where the water lines will be installed.
“I’m talking about the residents of ward three getting tax increase after tax increase every year and nothing. Nothing in the roads program. Nothing!
Mayor Tom Laughren said he was sympathetic, but advised Gvozdanovic “that over and above your disappointment, there is work going on in that ward.” He mentioned the improvements to the highway crossing, the new water booster station and new water mains. Laughren also advised that the road repair priorities are decided by the engineering staff, not by politics.
Councillor Mike Doody said much of the blame for the lack of road repair money lies at the feet of the federal government, which could have allocated money for roads instead of deciding to drop the GST by one per cent. Doody said the one per cent would have created billions of dollars for road work.
“They didn’t do it, and they let us down,” said Doody, adding that fortunately for the city, the provincial government “stepped up to the plate” and granted an extra $1.1 million to Timmins.
Among the priorities there will be major road repairs to MacLean Drive from Victoria to Laforest for $800,000; to Airport Road from Theriault to Lafleur bridge for $600,000; repairs to several sections of the Kamiskotia highway for $700,000; completing the surface treatment of Highway 610 between Hoyle and Connaught for $250,000; and road repairs to Dalton Road for $100,000. The city has also identified dozens of other smaller road projects and intersections throughout the city where work will be done.

No comments: