Councillors clash over Maxville roadwork
In what may have been one of the most contentious North Glengarry council meetings in recent history, two councillors exchanged heated barbs over additional roadwork in Maxville in the wake of the village’s water project.
Lochiel Councillor Brian Caddell and Maxville Councillor Carma Williams, who are both running for the Deputy mayor’s post, clashed when council approved the $327,233 job, though the township claims that total will drop to just over $239,000 with upper levels of government funding.
Mr. Caddell complained the extra work was an additional debt, expressing skepticism that the township would land the extras $4.5 million that the province has, apparently, earmarked for the project.
“Even if we get this $4.5 million, we’re still $2 million short,” he said. “I fear debt and this is just debt to me.”
Mr. Caddell also contended that the additional roadwork is unnecessary.
“No offence to Maxville but it’s a village,” he said. “It doesn’t need perfect streets. It has dead-end roads.”
This remark didn’t sit well with Ms. Williams, who proceeded to upbraid her colleague.
“Brian, you fail to understand that is a good news scenario,” she said, adding that the water project is under budget. “If we get that extra $ 4.5 million, we could do more roads. This shows what little regard you have for the people of Maxville. We should maintain those roads.”
Later, she maintained that the project was moving forward anyway and urged Mr. Caddell to “stop being so objectionable.”
Mr. Caddell accused Ms. Williams of “making this personal” and insisted that his only concern was that the water project is causing the township to accumulate debt.
As an example, he pointed to Maxville’s water treatment plant, which, he said, initially required upgrades of about $ 3 million and is now projected to cost $4 million.
“I say we’re in debt now and everything we add just adds to our debt.”
CAO Sarah Huskinson says that the Maxville Water Project is actually about $700,000 under budget, something that came to light after contractors and engineering firms completed their estimates.
As such, a number of Mr. Caddell’s fellow councillors challenged him on his view that the township was piling on debt.
Kenyon Councillor Jeff Manley asked Mr. Caddell why he thought the township would be an extra $ 2 million in debt, saying that the figures don’t show that North Glengarry would be over budget.
Mr. Caddell later clarified his view, saying that work on the project has just started and that council shouldn’t be taking on additional work until it has a better idea as to what the final price tag is going to be.
He claims that massive infra- structure projects like this one have a tendency to go 10 per cent over budget and says that council should be conservative about spending until the bulk of the work is completed, particularly the laying of the pipe that will bring the water into Maxville from Alexandria.
The project itself was expected to cost about $ 30 million. The federal government has picked up 50 per cent of that total with the province picking up an additional 25 per cent. The township itself is expected to pay for the final 25 per cent, about $7.5 million.
Mr. Caddell wasn’t the only one skeptical about the supposed $4.5 million coming from the province, especially since the government has changed hands since the additional funding was promised.
Mayor Chris McDonell expressed concern that the new PC government wouldn’t honour the commitment, though Ms. Williams assured him that the government pledged it would follow through. It merely had to put that pledge in writing.
Later, Mr. McDonell said he was happy Maxville wasn’t getting its water from Cornwall, which was once considered a possibility.
“We’d be up to $ 100 million now,” he said.
Ms. Huskinson says that so far, the township has spent about $ 3 million on the water project.
The six different roadwork projects amount to just over one kilometre of streets within the village. They include two sections of Catherine Street East ( one from Main Street to JH Munro, the other from JH Munro until the dead end,) Alexander Street West from the dead end to Main Street, Spring Street from Catherine Street W. to George Street, John Street from Mechanic Street to Alexander Street West, and King Street N. from Alexander Street to Mechanic Street.
Now that council has approved the work, the Maxville Water Project would be about $460,000 under budget.