Spaniard’s Bay councillors torn over tying hands of next council

By Mark Squibb/August 26, 2021

After months of consultation and discussion, Spaniards Bay council has voted on the future of Northern Cove Pond Road.

“We’ve dedicated a fair bit of time investigating the issue and trying to get all the perspectives that we possibly could,” said Mayor Paul Brazil during a special meeting held two weeks ago to deal strictly with the issue. “We’ve done public consultations. We’ve had written submissions, and faxed submissions, and some verbal ones as well. So, it’s an issue that I would like to have a conclusion to before we finish our term.”

This previous winter, residents of the road delivered to council a petition asking it to deal with speeding. Later, it was decided that installing two turnarounds would be an ideal solution.

Council received a quote of about $30,000 plus HST, for the work, but some members of council, including Deputy Mayor Darlene Stamp, felt the actual cost would be considerably higher.

“I don’t think $30,00 is going to cover it,” said Stamp, who noted the work had not been budgeted for this year. Stamp also worried the work would encroach on the 15-metre buffer from the railbed.

“My thought is that residents do have an issue, and that council is trying to support the two turnarounds, which I think is a good idea, but I think for right now, at this time of year, council should try some other options first which would alleviate some of the concerns that the residents have,” she said.

Stamp argued the turnarounds would still create two-way traffic, albeit at a lesser flow.

She added the turnarounds would have to be built wide enough to accommodate large trucks, such as dump trucks and fire trucks, which could be a problem. She suggested making the road a one-way street and increasing signage, while more research is done on the problem.

Stamp also argued it is unwise to start such a big project so close to the election.

“We’ve got a new council in a month’s time,” said Stamp. “It’s unfair to make a major decision now that the new council is going to be tied to it too.”

Councilor Eric Jewer disagreed with Stamp’s statement that the project will likely cost more.

Stamp clarified that when council requested the quote, there were still many things, such as the railbed buffer that had not been factored into the request.

Jewer, however, felt the time to act was now.

“Those people came to us with a petition either last fall or early winter and said they had a concern,” said Jewer. “We asked the residents what they wanted, and they came to us with a turnaround.”

“I’m not saying we’re not going to do the turnaround, but right now it’s a month before the election, we do not have it in the budget, the town did not budget $30,000 for this, it came after the budget was put it place,” Stamp countered. “You would have to take that $30,000 from somewhere else in the budget.”

Mayor Brazil advised that council would either have to leave the matter as is for the next council to budget, or make a decision now.

Councilor David Smith argued against making the road one-way.

“I’m completely against the one-way, “said Smith. “I’ve thought about it and thought about it, and I think it’s going to make it much worse than what it is. All you’re doing is your taking down one sign and putting up another sign. You’re not going to solve any problems.”

Stamp decided to solve the issue by putting a motion to the floor. She motioned the town install two turnarounds at a cost of $30,000 on Northern Cove Pond. Jewer seconded it.

Councilor Tracey Singleton-Smith asked if council would be capping the project at $30,000, as she too felt the amount quoted won’t be enough.

“As the deputy mayor indicated, this is only an estimated cost, we have no detailed costs, we have no detailed plans,” said Singleton-Smith. “And where is the money coming from? We’ve had unexpected costs pop up. We’ve had some pumps go out. So where is this coming from? I’m not against the turnaround. I want to make sure it’s done right. I don’t want to put us in a place where we’re jeopardizing our budget.”

Next, Brazil weighed in with his thoughts.

“I get the feeling that councilors see the wisdom in turning that street into a cul-de-sac,” he said. “But, for this particular council, for this particular financial year, because we didn’t budget for it, we’re well into the year, we’ve down to the final month of us sitting around the table here, (so) how do we find $30,000? Are we just going to pass the motion and leave it up to the deputy mayor or the town manager? Are we going to leave it up to the people sitting around the table here in September and say, ‘We made the motion, you guys have to find the dollars to support it.’”

After some further discussion, Brazil said this council should leave a recommendation for the new council to proceed with the two turnarounds and budget them in Budget 2022.

But Jewer didn’t think the work should wait.

“I was talking to a resident today, and the people in there are very, very frustrated,” said Jewer. “This was brought to us in the winter, and there has been no action taken, and there’s a new council coming on in a few months’ time. And they’re wondering if this is going to be pushed under the table.”

To that, Brazil said that while council received the petition in February, the idea of the turnarounds did not come to the table until later. Stamp added it’s important for council to take the time to complete the numerous steps involved, including getting a quote and consulting with the public.

Jewer remained unconvinced, suggesting a new council could defeat a motion to move ahead with the work if it isn’t budgeted by this council.

Brazil said he would hate to tie the hands of the new council to a decision made by the old council, but that he would also hate to see the issue remain unresolved.

Stamp moved that the current council plan the funding for the two turnarounds, keeping in mind the 15 metre railbed buffer, in Budget 2022. Jewer seconded the motion.

And so, after 30 minutes of discussion, it was time to vote – “I think we’ve beat this topic to death,” Mayor Brazil couldn’t help observing.

The count saw all hands in favour of Stamp’s motion except that of councilor Sherry Lundrigan who was absent from the meeting.

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