Holyrood adopts new standards for retaining walls

Busy public works agenda includes work on sinkholes, street cleaning, and new policy for hiring contractors

By Craig Westcott \ May12, 2023

Holyrood staff are closely monitoring a sinkhole in the Woodford’s Station area, says the chairman of council’s infrastructure and public works committee, Steve Winsor.

The sinkhole is being caused by a defective culvert.

Winsor thanked the resident who brought the matter to the attention of staff.

“We’ve communicated to those area residents who picked up on it first that we do plan to do that replacement at the right time,” Winsor added. “We’re hoping to do it once school is completed to minimize the impact on bus routes and traffic. It’s a big project though, probably one of the most expensive culverts that we would do (in terms of) the size, the length, the excavation involved. We’ve done our internal estimation and it’s approaching $10,000, which will consume most of our budget for culverts this year, which is a problem.”

Winsor reminded his colleagues that during last fall’s budget discussions he warned about the need for additional funds to be earmarked to deal with aging infrastructure. 

“So, we will spend that ($10,000) and anticipate there will be other culverts to follow,” he said.”

In other public works news:

Winsor said there are a number of areas in Town where speeding has been a concern for some years. 

“Residents have come forward and brought to our attention concerns around safety, particularly as it relates to young children in proximity to playgrounds and things like that,” he said. “People need to slow down. But we’ll do our part to try to quieten the traffic. Public works will be doing a tour of the town and looking to reinstall speed bumps that were previously installed and then taken up for the winter so they wouldn’t interfere with snow plows. So, we will be looking to reinstall the speedbumps that were in those locations last year, and attempt to identify any new areas of concern.”

Winsor cautioned residents that speedbumps can’t be placed on every street.

“We’re going to try our best,” he said. “There are certain areas that are bona fide risks.”

Winsor said the committee will look for ways to get ahead of the problem in the next Town Plan so that new subdivisions, for instance, can incorporate design features that dampen traffic speeds.

“That’s something we’re going to look at in the short term and the long term around speeding,” Winsor said. “Again, residents who are listening, please slow down, especially with the kids on the go, and the weather hopefully improving and (them) getting out on their bikes when school lets out. Please, do that.”

The director of public works is set to prepare and release a Request for Proposals for companies interested in providing street cleaning services.

“Certain areas as we know are pretty bad at picking up sand and gravel, and also from the salting and sanding activities over the winter,” Winsor said. “That needs to get cleaned up now, both for esthetics and for safety (reasons) primarily. That is something that we contract out and have done so with success the last number of years.”

Council has formally adopted its new Standing Offer Policy for hiring contractors and equipment on an emergency basis. The committee worked on the policy for the past few months and had to check the credentials of companies applying to be placed on a list for emergency callups.

“The objective is to give additional contractors an opportunity to bid and succeed on the work, at the same time protecting the Town to make sure we get the responsiveness and the quality that the residents expect and require for emergency services,” Winsor said. “The way that will work is we will give fair opportunity to different contractors, but there will be a performance standard to live up to, and a job completion quality check to ensure it was done in a timely fashion and the work that was done was of a satisfactory quality.”

Deputy Mayor Michelle Woodford congratulated Winsor and the rest of council for adopting the policy. “I think it equals out to be a very fair opportunity for everyone involved,” she said.

Holyrood’s lottery system for wood cutting on Town lands that come up for development has finally been approved. Winsor said the Town had to do its legal homework before putting it forward for adoption. “Once this is adopted, the lottery system will be in place,” he said. “The other thing that is probably worth mentioning here is timeliness.”

Winsor explained deadlines may have to be attached to some permits to ensure the areas are cleared in time for construction deadlines.

And finally, Holyrood has also adopted a new policy regulating the construction of retaining walls.

Winsor acknowledged the issue has been a pet peeve since he was elected.

“I want to applaud the director of public works (Robert Stacey) for the work that he’s done on the file behind the scenes, talking with the Province, talking to engineering consultants and other municipalities,” Winsor said. “The idea here is that we have a consistent standard that’s safe, safety being the number one concern. You see a variety of different types of sloping retaining walls in the community – some are done well, and some are done not so well. There are some areas that are a particular concern to us from a safety perspective. So, we just want to bring some standardization to that.”

The new regulations identify standards for the height and slope of retaining walls and requires a qualified consultant to design them. “It protects the applicant, the developer, the Town and the residents,” Winsor said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here. So, I’m really happy that this is finally coming to fruition and being tabled and adopted here.”

The motion to approve the policy passed unanimously. 

Winsor said the next policy the committee hopes to bring before council for approval is one pertaining to the regulation of residential swimming pools.

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