St. Marys Journal Argus
The Mayor and CAO of the Town of St. Marys can expect a call soon from the County of Perth, after county councillors directed their CAO to pressure the separated town to ante up for road reconstruction.
“To get into St. Marys, you obviously have to travel on a township road or a county road,” commented Perth County Warden Bob Wilhelm, when contacted by the Journal Argus late last week.
“Some of the (Perth County) Council members believe that St. Marys should be contributing to maintaining those roads.”
At their regular meeting in Stratford last week, County councillors Rhonda Eghoetz and Bob McMillan led the charge — resulting in a majority but not unanimous vote — to arrange a meeting with St. Marys officials. They cited an already-existing agreement with the City of Stratford, under which Stratford does pay for the upkeep of some feeder roadways.
Speaking to the Journal Argus, Wilhelm said the agreement with Stratford, which also includes some clauses about the provision of social services, was cemented after the county received a report a few years ago about “notional weighted assessment” from a consultant.
“We’re looking to use that (Stratford/County agreement) as a model,” the Warden — who’s also the Mayor of Perth South — offered.
Wilhelm added that there have been discussions in the past with St. Marys about the town paying for a portion of the upkeep of feeder roads, but not recently.
Contacted Monday, St. Marys CAO Kevin McLlwain agreed with Wilhelm on one note: That discussions on the matter have not taken place recently. But his agreement on the matter didn’t stretch any further.
McLlwain was aware of the recent calls by County councillors for a meeting, but added it will take a lot of negotiation to come to any agreement like what’s in place with Statford. Indeed, he questioned whether such an agreement would even be prudent or acceptable for St. Marys.
“Certainly, from our research, there’s no contract in place, and there’s no legal obligation on the part of the Town of St. Marys to pay for the upkeep of roads outside its jurisdiction.”
According to Wilhelm, the County of Perth’s proposed 2014 budget was to include $1.3 million for the reconstruction of Road 130 from Sebringville to St. Marys, as well as $333,000 for work on Road 118 from the Highway 7/Oxford Road 119 intersection to Line 9 (the extension of Queen Street East). At one point during last week’s County Council meeting, one councillor suggested that only a portion of the Road 130 work be done: That the entire roadway be cleared of the old asphalt, but that only a portion of it be re-paved.
Wilhelm related that the rest of the road leading into St. Marys, the councillor suggested, should be left in gravel.
The warden was quick to add he’s not supportive of that type of language. But he definitely supports the idea of sitting down with St. Marys and working on a deal.
“I did assure (County) Council that I would try to get that meeting arranged as soon as possible,” he said.
And he does support the idea of St. Marys paying more for roads leading into the town.
“The vehicle count on (Road 130) is about 2,000 per day, so it’s a very well-used route,” he said. “And St. Marys is paying zero towards that.”
McLlwain didn’t want to expand on the discussion points he plans to bring up whenever the meeting does happen, but he suggested that “the province has taken the stance that those who own the roads pay for the roads.”
And that doesn’t just mean roads that lead into a municipality, but also roads — like Queen Street — that might qualify as “connecting links” between two parts of the same municipality. In those cases, it might be possible for a similar argument to that of the County, in reverse, about paying for roads used frequently to the benefit of another municipality.