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March 10, 2005

City council considering its options

Cornwall needs $3M per year for roads

Many small communities in Ontario are trying to balance their budgets and provide funding for much-needed roadbuilding projects and annual maintenance.

Cornwall, Ont., is not immune to such debates and discussions are ongoing to determine whether council will approve a small increase in the property tax.

“That’s a real challenge with all the other priorities that are out there for projects and general budget discussions,” said Norm Levac, Cornwall’s manager of engineering, environment and construction services.

“We have a number of streets that we are proposing. What we have basically proposed is a value of projects where we would like to have a sustainable funding level or a level where we maintain the network in its existing condition so that we’re not losing ground on it.

“We feel that we need about $3 million per-year to keep our roadwork network the way it is,” he added, noting that this includes a mix of reconstruction, overlay and general maintenance, “but we’re not able to maintain that level of funding right now. We have a deficit in that we can’t get to the $3-million approval. We’re fairly close — we’re debating a $2.4-million level.”

Levac expects that a decision will be reached in the next couple of weeks. Cornwall has a road network of a little more than 200 kilometres of roads and approximately the same amount of sidewalks.

The city, having approved its water and sewer rates, is now embarking on a major program of renovating and improving its underground infrastructure.

Approximately $300,000 will be spent to do a general upgrade of the wastewater plant, including the replacement of equipment.

“We have a fairly big expenditure at the water treatment plant, as well as some water and sewer work that we are considering,” said Levac.

“There are some fairly old areas of the city that need a storm sewer, a new sanitary sewer and new water mains. Basically, by putting all of that in, you wind up needing a new roadway.”

The city’s water and sewage budget is nearly $4.79 million.

About $1.87 million will be spent to rebuild the road and replace the underground infrastructure on Second Street from Marlborough to Adolphus.

“That’s a couple of blocks of roadway,” said Levac. “We’re going to be starting in May. We’re ready to tender and that will be very soon.”

Within a month or two, work will begin on the water treatment plant upgrade — a $9.9-million project that will allow the city to comply with provincial water regulations.

The general contractor for the project is Detra Builders Inc., who will be installing an ultra-violet treatment for the water, building a new chemical processing building which will house all the chemical processes and a standby power generating system.

The construction activity will not affect the operation of the plant and everything should be completed by the end of December.

Future roadwork projects in the east end of Cornwall, those associated with the growth of the municipality, are also incomplete due to budget restraints.

“We’re working to try and bring that about,” said Levac. “We have some analysis to do and some preliminary designs and we are working on a number of those.”

The basic issues centre around increased traffic flow. Roads such as Marleau, Tenth Street, Boundary Road and Industrial Park Road are being investigated for capacity increases.

“We’ll get a good handle on it over the course of this year,” said Levac. “We need to be in a good position to recommend something to council next year. Basically, by the fall we’ll have answers.”

Some of the potential projects could qualify for federal and provincial infrastructure grants.

“We’re looking at increasing capacity — adding a lane or two and building a new road somewhere else to try to alleviate the problem,” he said. “We’re just trying to determine the preferred options.”

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