By Darren Lum
The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Sept. 22 meeting of Highlands East council, which was available to the public via YouTube.
Highlands East council voted to allow off-road motorcycles and Argo-like vehicles on municipal roads, amending their bylaw following a report given by bylaw enforcement officer Kristen Boylan.
This comes as a result of Haliburton County council’s request for feedback from municipalities after the province granted provincial highway road access to XTRs, or off-road vehicles with six or eight wheels and ORMs, or off-road motorcycles as of July 1, 2020.
“They’re trying to get a feel of if this will work and what all the lower tiers are thinking and have all our roads under the same umbrella,” Boylan said.
Access for the new user groups will enable them to link trail networks. It is part of an effort to increase route options for off-roaders and to bolster tourism across the province, bringing more people to new areas. The Ontario Federation of Trail Riders, which represents thousands of off-road motorcyclists was part of the advocacy effort for this access.
Before the vote, councillors Ruth Strong and Cam McKenzie were the first on council who supported the access. This decision will be sent to county council.
Boylan said there may be financial impact to the municipality if the roads department needs to repair portions of the road due to additional traffic. However, she said this is part of the “natural process of what we’re trying to offer being a tourist destination.”
Councillor Suzanne Partridge was the first on council to voice concerns about added damage that could reduce the conditions of roadways for area truck and car drivers.
Boylan clarified, saying the new users wouldn’t necessarily be permitted on the travel portion, as they would be limited to the shoulder unless it wasn’t safe to do so.
Building on municipal land
Council denied a request (and likely future requests) from a resident on Hemlock Street in Cardiff to construct a four-by-four retaining wall to safeguard against erosion on the road allowance.
CAO and treasurer Shannon Hunter noted the liability issue and the prospect of other residents who might want to do the same.
Hunter said the issue is the retaining wall would be built on municipal property. Unless there was a legal agreement stating the homeowner assumes liability, there is a concern for the township.
“Someone walked on it. Someone slipped on it. Someone fell on it. That’s one of the things,” she said.
Partridge noted the long-term outlook.
“We don’t know [what] the long-term implications of that would be. I lean towards not allowing this retaining wall or any others,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Cecil Ryall repeated Hunter’s liability concern and also noted concerns for safety.
“My concern would be about safety and someone falls off the edge of that, where do we stand?”
McKenzie understood this decision will prevent other work by private residents.
“If we turn this down then it probably turns down future applications. The one other thing is on the submission there was no recommendations from either our roads department or our environmental for, against or neutral,” he said.
McKenzie said he knew this area well, having spoken to the owner and believed it was initially referenced as a fence. Another resident was thinking about a similar proposal for a stone wall.
He said it’s not practical for a person to build a retaining wall on their own property, but recognized the beneficial result for the township when property owners have shored up the edges of driveways where they met road shoulders. However, he said in this case it wasn’t the same situation and doesn’t expect this request to be common.
$25,000 bill for Cardiff drinking water system
Environmental supervisor Stewart Hurd said essential maintenance needs to be performed on the two wells of the Cardiff drinking water system. The work includes inspections and cleanings to the duty well and standby well.
The $20,000 capital money budgeted for upgrades to pump efficiency will be needed for the work on the wells. His recommendation for the upgrades to the pump efficiency to come from the 2021 capital budget was supported by council.
The issue is the duty well’s performance has decreased and the presence of “significant air” in the standby well. This has resulted in a need to change filters more frequently, causing greater cost with the main well while the standby well is dealing with the presence of air, which “interferes with the monitoring equipment in the facility and introduces air into the distribution system.”
Hurd said the earliest technicians will be able to start the work is the last week of October. He will look for other technicians to start the work earlier, but wasn’t sure.
“It’s tough to get them in right away, but we’re trying to push to get this well as soon as possible to save on the costs of running the facility,” he said.
Blue box costs increase
Environmental supervisor Steward Hurd said there was a “significant increase” of visitors to the landfill.
It has raised the costs associated to processing and haulage of blue box materials worth a little more than $66,000 for the period from June to August this year. From June to August last year, the cost was just a bit more than $42,000.