Council rejects $4 million Bear Lake Road price tag
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Oct. 6 meeting of Algonquin Highlands council.
Following months of discussion, council has voted against bringing Bear Lake Road up to municipal standards for year round use after a report from AECOM said it would cost more than $4 million to do so.
The seasonal road located in the northern portion of the municipality has been a contentious issue for some time now, coming up during prior elections and at the council table.
In June of this year, Algonquin Highlands staff authorized AECOM to complete a preliminary assessment, including aspects such as establishing a cost for legal surveys, according to public works director Mike Thomas’s report to council.
The cost estimate AECOM provided to council for total reconstruction including HST was $4,124,500.
“Based on a preliminary count of 120 properties that would benefit from an improved year round maintained road, the cost per owner would be $34,370,” reads Thomas’s report.
According to the report from AECOM, the estimate includes reconstructing 6.5 kilometres of Bear Lake Road.
All four councillors and Reeve Carol Moffatt agreed the township could not afford the cost to bring the road up to municipal standards.
Moffatt said in her opinion the township had done its due diligence and the answer was no.
Councillor Marlene Kyle asked whether the municipality could look at doing the reconstruction over a 10 to 15 year period.
“More and more people are using their cottages year round,” she said.
Councillor Bryan Lynch suggested keeping the option open in the chance a good funding opportunity became available to the township.
“If we got that kind of an opportunity would it be [spent on] Bear Lake Road or would it be somewhere else?” asked Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen.
Moffatt said not everyone who had a property on Bear Lake Road wanted the road to be open year round.
“I firmly believe our due diligence is complete,” said the reeve, adding the decision in front of council was whether or not to approve the $4 million expenditure and not to discuss future plans for the road.
“It’s going to cost $4 million to open the road. You’ve all said no, so it’s no,” said Moffatt. “The end.”
Danielsen called for a motion on the matter be made.
Further discussion on the topic was had by all of council, which Danielsen pointed out was violating council rules, as she had put a motion on the table.
Council unanimously voted in favour of not supporting bringing Bear Lake Road to year round status, but would continue to maintain it.
“This has been a tough one for us,” said Moffatt.
Busy year for parks and rec
2016 has proven to be a busy year for the municipality, particularly for the water trails.
Parks, recreation and trails manager Chris Card reported that revenues exceeded expectations, with camping revenue totalling more than $200,000 for 2016, compared to approximately $181,000 in 2015.
Both rental and retail revenue were also up.
Card pointed to the good summer weather as contributing to this increase.
Visits and revenue are also up at the Dorset scenic tower, with 2016 bringing in almost $70,000 to date.