Todd Hewitt

Town receives funding to add more bike lanes

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Town of Amherstburg is hoping to add one, or perhaps two, new bike lanes thanks to funding it has secured from the province.

Amherstburg has secured $97,259.51 from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) program and town council has authorized administration to enter into a transfer payment agreement with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) to obtain the funding.

Both projects identified qualified for OMCC funding, manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stated in his report to town council, with those projects being the installation of paved shoulders on Alma St. from Meloche Road to Fryer St. and the installation of a second bike lane along County Road 20 from Dalhousie St. to Front Road South (Amherst Pointe).

“There is currently no budget dollars assigned to either of the eligible projects and one or both of the projects will be included in the future budgets for council consideration,” Hewitt said in his report to council. “The project(s) must be completed by December 30, 2020 to utilize the OMCC funding.”

Hewitt said the Alma St. project carries an initial estimate of $487,500 with 40 per cent of that project eligible for CWATS funding from the County of Essex.

A paved shoulder/bike lane on the other side of County Road 20 – that stretch has a bike lane on the east side of the road – has an initial estimated cost of $500,000, said Hewitt. That project would also be eligible for 40 per cent funding through CWATS.

Unless the CWATS committee expands the number of identified projects they wish to pursue, this would be it for Amherstburg’s share of projects.

“Once these two programs are done, from a CWATS perspective, we’re done,” advised Hewitt.

Councillor Leo Meloche said more needs to be done in the McGregor area, believing there is a need for more paved shoulders and trails to allow McGregor residents better walking access to parks. Councillor Rick Fryer agreed, saying there are areas of McGregor that need to be connected to ERCA’s Cypher Systems Greenway. That greenway trail runs through McGregor.

Town working with engineering firm to provide new development opportunities

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has authorized an agreement with Stantec Consulting Ltd. to provide engineering services to complete the Southeast Quadrant Servicing Class Environmental Assessment.

What that means is that there could be an additional 1,777 homes built on lands around the Fryer St. and Lowes Side Road intersection in the future.

CAO John Miceli stated that there are five parcels of land in that area that are owned by five different developers. The goal is to develop the lands at the same time and the town is trying to facilitate that development.

The specific project being funded at this stage is for a Class Environmental Assessment (EA).

“We have received confirmation from three of the five developers that they want the project to proceed. Administration is working with the fourth developer to address some of their concerns while the fifth

landowner has requested to be excluded from the servicing,” manager of engineering Todd Hewitt stated in a report to town council. “Although final draft plans and designs have not been completed for these developable properties, Stantec used conceptual designs and typical housing densities to determine approximate number of residential units per development. With the three confirmed developers, there is a potential for 1,277 residential units with an additional 500 with the fourth developer.”

A total of $225,000 excluding HST has been pre-committed in the 2018 wastewater budget to cover this stage of the project.

“A portion of the roadwork (including storm sewers) would need to be funded through general tax and development charges. This work would include the full reconstruction of Fryer St. from Pickering to Lowes and the full reconstruction of Lowes Side Road from Sandwich St. to Meloche Road,” Hewitt’s report stated. “Preliminary estimates that were completed for the original servicing study place the cost of this work at $8,062,000. This estimate is based on converting these roads to an urban cross-section including curbs and storm sewers.”

Hewitt noted these projects have been outlined in the development charge study of 2014.

“From a potential revenue perspective the estimated 1,777 homes would generate an estimated $22,644,311 in development fees (using the 2018 development charge fee of $12,743 for single family and semi-detached dwellings). From an ongoing municipal tax perspective assuming an average home price of $250,000 for the full build out of 1,777 homes, would generate approximately $4.1 million in annual municipal revenue based on the 2018 mill rate. This revenue would remain in perpetuity on a yearly basis,” Hewitt stated in his report.

Approving the engineering services to complete the Class EA is the next step in

developing the southeast quadrant lands, Hewitt added, and not have approving it would have delayed the project for “a significant amount of time.”

Concession 2 North bridge to be torn down, replaced

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The bowstring arch bridge located on Concession 2 North over the Long Marsh Drain is going to be torn down and replaced.

The bridge, located near River Canard, will be replaced at a cost of approximately $1.2 million with replacement being the recommended option from town administration. According to a report from manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt, the new bridge will have a standard design and a 75-year design life.

Town council had two other options – replacement of the bridge with one of a similar design or repairing the current bridge – but opted for replacing it with a standard design. To repair the current bridge would have cost $927,000 but Hewitt said drawbacks of that option would be a 25-30 year probable service life and the fact bridge weight restrictions and width would remain restricted.

To build a new bridge that would look similar to the current bridge, it had a cost estimate of $1.8 million as it is “an extremely complex design to build” and would carry increased lifecycle and maintenance costs.

The issue over the fate of the Concession 2 North bridge arose earlier this year, when costs to maintain the current bridge came in higher than anticipated.

Town council has elected to tear down and replace the Concession 2 North bridge with a new bridge of modern design.

“The 2017 Capital Budget included $364,000 for the rehabilitation and repair of the existing bridge based on the estimate provided in the 2016 Bridge Inspection Report received from Keystone (Bridge Management). Based on a recommendation included in the 2016 Bridge Inspection Report, administration contracted Stantec Consulting to complete a detailed condition report of the existing structure with rehabilitation recommendations. The detailed condition report also included an estimated cost to complete the required rehabilitation work. The estimate in the report from Stantec Consulting was $842,000 plus engineering fees,” said Hewitt, in his report to council.

An RFP was issued and the matter was to be discussed at the May 23 council meeting, however Hewitt noted the town was offered pre-cast bridge beams at a “significantly discounted cost” so the matter was delayed while that option was investigated.

“Through this analysis it was determined that the beams could be used for the bridge structure but that additional work and costs would be incurred by the municipality to use the beams which would result in an overall increase to the RFP contract,” stated Hewitt.

Some of the reasons he listed for the additional costs were the because size of the footing and abutments would need to be increased significantly; the overall excavation would be larger, requiring more sheet piling; the deck surface would be increased resulting in increased materials to

treatments for the deck; the entire bridge would be 300mm higher resulting in additional roadway works and guardrails and that the banks and shoreline of the drain would need to be reshaped.

“This would result in additional costs and possible delays to receive approvals from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF),” Hewitt said. “Based on the information regarding the donated beams administration determined that accepting the donated beams was not a prudent decision that would benefit the town.”

Sisters Carmel and Patricia Ravanello, whose family owns property nearby, had pressed for the preservation of the existing bridge.

A portion of the Concession 2 North bridge is shown decaying.

“I can’t believe that it would have cost $1.2 million to repair/refurbish the existing bridge,” Carmel said in an e-mail to the River Town Times. “I am disappointed with this news not only as someone trying to preserve the history and heritage of River Canard but also as a taxpayer.”

The Ravanello sisters believe it is a historic bridge, with Patricia telling the RTT earlier this year that her research shows it was built in 1938 by the R.J. Blyth Co. She said they had placed an advertisement in The Amherstburg Echo around that time period.

They pointed out the significance of the bridge ranks seven out of ten on a national and local level according to the website www.historicalbridges.org and were hopeful of new ideas. They offered suggestions such as performing “basic maintenance” on the bridge, using it as a pedestrian and cycling bridge and build another bridge next to it for vehicles, close Concession 2 North to through traffic and have no bridge at all.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo believed the option of replacing the bridge with a current design was the most financially prudent way to go. DiCarlo did sympathize with heritage concerns noting he tries to support heritage in Amherstburg, citing the town’s purchase of Belle Vue as an example.

“The bridge was never designated heritage,” he said, adding the town is not in a position financially to spend the extra money to design a new bridge with the look of the current one.

DiCarlo added that refurbishing the old bridge was slightly cheaper but the bridge still would have had the width and weight restrictions plus a reduced lifespan.

“It seemed like a lot to saddle future generations for them to do it again in that short period of time,” he said.

The new bridge will be wider and have more room for pedestrians and cyclists and “I think that’s important to people,” said DiCarlo.

Based on the cost of bridges and culverts not just in Amherstburg but around Essex County, DiCarlo said $1 million “seems to be the going rate.” He added that environmental protections around River Canard may have contributed to the costs of the new bridge as well.

COUNCIL BRIEFS — LED lighting coming soon?

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The installation of LED lighting could be coming later this year.

Councillor Rick Fryer questioned where the municipality was in the process of installing new LED fixtures in the town’s street lights. Manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt said the file is on his desk and admittedly is taking longer than he had hoped.

Hewitt said he anticipates there will be a tender out within a few weeks. He said there is a lot involved with what the town wants with regards to energy efficiency.

Canuck it Up thanks   Councillor Leo Meloche asked about recognizing the town’s tourism department, including Anne Rota and Jennifer Ibrahim, for the Canuck it Up! Festival. The town is praising the festival as a huge success, stating that an estimated crowd of 80,000 came out.

CAO John Miceli said he put out an e-mail to staff thanking them for their work, saying they pulled off “an amazing festival” for a department of two-and-a-half people.

 

Roadway   Councillor Diane Pouget questioned the police parking lot, noting it was supposed to be temporary but added concerns she has heard from residents about a possible road off of Sandwich St. S. leading to Belle Vue.

Miceli advised that there was nothing finalized with regards to the roadway to Belle Vue, pointing out it is merely a conceptual plan at this stage.

Twenty-seven per cent of town’s infrastructure either “poor” or “very poor”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town approved its new asset management plan as it hopes to find a way to start replenishing some of its aging and worn out assets.

According to a report from manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt, roughly $88.8 million – or 15 per cent – of town infrastructure is in “very poor” condition and $70.2 million – or 12 per cent – is in “poor” condition. Hewitt added there is a $47 million backlog of infrastructure replacement based on useful life with $34 million reaching the end of their useful life in the next five years.

Broken down, $42 million (33 per cent) of road infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition with Hewitt saying that is for complete replacement, not repair. Over $10 million of bridge and culvert infrastructure is in poor or very poor shape, amounting to 23 per cent. Twenty-seven per cent of water infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition, which equates to $33.9 million of the town’s water infrastructure.

About $27.8 million – or 22 per cent – of wastewater infrastructure is classified as being in poor or very poor condition with $7.4 million (17.9 per cent) of storm water infrastructure also being in rough shape.

Councillor Diane Pouget questioned the sewage numbers and Hewitt acknowledged a lot of money has been poured into that department related to sewers and the wastewater plant, “there’s still a lot of work to do.” He cited brick sewers still being in some areas of town and equipment now past its lifecycle at the plant in the McLeod Ave. area.

Thirty-one per cent ($12.7 million) of building infrastructure is in poor or very poor condition while 59 per cent of the town’s machinery and equipment – or $1.9 million worth – is in that condition as well.

Currently, $2.6 million (33.6 per cent) of the town’s land improvements such as parks assets is in poor or very poor condition while 72 per cent of the vehicle fleet can be classified as such with the latter seeing $6.2 million worth of the fleet in poor or very poor shape. There is also $1 million worth of the information technology (IT) infrastructure in poor or very poor shape, amounting to 75 per cent of that department’s infrastructure.

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The town has an average asset health grade of “C” and and average financial capacity grade of “F,” making their overall grade for the municipality “D.”

Hewitt did note that despite items, including equipment, machinery, vehicles and computers, classified as poor or very poor, they are still usable but are just prone to increased repair costs.

“I was appalled when I read this report,” said Councillor Joan Courtney. “I was sick to my stomach.”

Courtney said she was concerned that this could make any progress the town has made moot as there is over $150 million in infrastructure that is classified as being in poor or very poor shape.

“Are we going to have to raise taxes to bring down that $150 million?” she asked.

Part of Hewitt’s report noted that a 1.5 per cent increase to the general tax budget, a two per cent increase for wastewater and one per cent increase to water will be presented to council during budget deliberations.

While tax increases are at council’s discretion, CAO John Miceli said that is part of the reason the levies were introduced. He added that it was learned at the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa, there is a $10 million per day infrastructure backlog across the province’s 444 municipalities.

“We’re not the only ones with the problem,” said Miceli, adding that nine per cent of the revenue raised through the tax system comes back to municipalities while municipalities have the most assets to look after.

The asset management plan will assist in the grant application process, he added, believing water and wastewater would be top priorities of upper levels of government.

Councillor Rick Fryer said while the report “looks like doom and gloom,” he agreed that having the plan is actually good news, and that it helps Amherstburg seek federal and provincial funding as the town can present it to upper levels of government.

“I don’t think a negative spin should come out in the media,” said Fryer.

Fryer added that “I don’t think we’re very far off” from other municipalities and that there are roads that can get done thanks to such plans.

“There’s a positive spin to that,” he said.

Hewitt added that projects like the Edgewater sewer extension, Texas Road and Meloche Road all received funding from senior levels of government thanks to previous asset management plans.