Township tired of MTO spinning its wheels
By Chad Ingram
The Township of Algonquin Highlands is sending a letter to the Ministry of Transportation with its concerns about how delays with the ministry’s approval process are holding up projects in the township.
During an Aug. 14 Haliburton County roads committee meeting, county public works director Craig Douglas explained the county was still waiting on permission from the MTO for establishment of a temporary entrance for a culvert replacement project on County Road 13, a joint project between the county and the Township of Algonquin Highlands.
“So, that delay is one of a number that Algonquin Highlands is experiencing at the moment, with our friends at the MTO,” Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt said during the committee meeting.
Moffatt explained she’d contacted MPP Laurie Scott regarding the issue, and was seeking support from Algonquin Highlands council to send a letter to Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, support the township council granted during a meeting the following day.
“Not only the joint project with the township and the county with regard to that culvert replacement and that entrance, but a number of other things, which for us include extensive delays on replacing failed septic systems,” Moffatt said, adding, “It’s the elephant in the room, the MTO is problematic with permits and moving projects forward in all of our jurisdictions.”
Algonquin Highlands’ letter to the MTO lists a number of projects that have been delayed as applicants await permission from the ministry, including three failed septic systems replacements; a four-month wait for approval to repair the roof on the township’s trails office along Highway 35; a four-month wait for approvals regarding a pavilion at Oxtongue Lake; a more than two-year wait for applications for a sleeping cabin and building addition; and an addition to a Dorset cottage for which the applicant has been trying to get permission since October of 2017.
In many cases, these delays also include strings of unanswered emails, in one case as many as a dozen.
“Council respectfully requests your assistance in addressing some serious delays with correspondence and required action from the Ministry of Transportation,” reads the letter, signed by Moffatt. “The months-long lack of response we’re experiencing is not only discourteous, it’s unacceptable. Delays in the provision of information and permits are not only negatively affecting RFPs, construction timelines, staff scheduling and budgets, they’re putting Ontarians at risk.”
Regarding the culvert replacement with the county, the letter reads, “There have been multiple attempts to contact ministry staff in order to move the joint project forward, and township staff have been told to ‘keep chasing her,’ meaning ministry staff. The RFP is ready to be issued, however this delay has been so long that the project may be delayed until next year.”