The Merrickville Estates Residents Association (MERA) is asking council to include the paving of HF McLean Road in the 2021 Public Works budget. Resident, Graeme Bonham-Carter, submitted a letter to council on November 16, asking for the opportunity to make their case to council about why paving McLean would be beneficial to the municipality from both a community and financial perspective.
The letter notes that the developer has now sold 100% of the lots in the subdivision, which means they will soon have 69 families living in Merrickville Estates. Greame writes that almost all of them are members of MERA and have said that they agree with the request to have the road paved.
“It has become very clear that the increased traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) on the steep, narrow section of Collar Hill Road is an accident waiting to happen,” the letter states. “A paved HF McLean would divert much of the [Merrickville Estates] traffic away from this section.”
Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron voiced his support for MERA’s request, stating that, as this item has come to council a few times over the past few years, it is something that council should be seriously considering. He said that, given phase 3 of Merrickville Estates has been sold, and council recently passed a bylaw to redirect heavy traffic in the village, it would make sense to make HF McLean a priority in the 2021 budget.
“St. Lawrence and Read Street are now the major thoroughfares for all truck traffic going through, and HF McLean is the contact point at which all of these vehicles are contacting Merrickville Estates,” he said at the meeting. Although the Village’s Operations Manager, Brad Cole, stated that he did not have a concrete estimate for council on how much paving that stretch of road would cost, Deputy Mayor Cameron said that a cost estimate was completed in early 2019, which had the cost sitting at roughly $121,000.
The Deputy Mayor has been an advocate for upgrading roads throughout the municipality ever since he was elected to council in 2018. He believes that looking after roads as a municipal asset should be a priority, and noted at the meeting that the amount of money needed to care for the roads in the municipality will sit at approximately $12 million, as of 2023.
“I think it’s important that we start tackling these roads, one at a time, and accomplishing an upgrade as we move forward,” he said. “These items should be identified and become a priority in our upcoming budgets.”
Councillor Bob Foster said that, while there is no doubt that the residents of Merrickville Estates would love to have access to their neighbourhood via two paved roads, there are people in Wolford who would also appreciate having the roads that lead to their homes paved. “Really, this is a priority matter for council to determine who needs roads, and we’ll base that on information from Public Works,” he said.
Although council is not taking delegations at this time due to COVID-19, they directed staff to encourage Graeme and MERA to send in their presentation for consideration in the 2021 budget process. Mayor Struthers did note, however, that council has to be prudent with their capital expenditures next year, in order to build up the municipality’s capital reserve. “[We] will take it into consideration with the many, many other things that are on the list of responsibilities we have, not just in roads, but the other parts of our municipal infrastructure.”