Central council upset with MTO crosswalk proposal for new sidewalk project

MINDEMOYA – While council for the municipality of Central Manitoulin has reached a consensus on the materials to be used relating to the Mindemoya sidewalk project, council is upset that if they want to put in a crosswalk from the Sparrow’s Nest apartment building across the highway to the Mindemoya Hospital (which they hoped would be similar to the one downtown at the four corners in Mindemoya), the province requires that it would require a light and push button to stop traffic, similar to crosswalks found in larger cities. This would put an additional $200,000-350,000 cost on the project.

“With this crosswalk lighting system being required if we go with a crosswalk, it seems a lot of what the government is doing has nothing to do with small remote rural hamlets like Mindemoya,” said Councillor Dale Scott during a council meeting last week. “But it has everything to do with the big cities, like Toronto and Kingston. The MTO is just following the guidelines in place for a large city.” He wondered why a small community like Mindemoya would need this extravagant crosswalk system. “I’m pissed about all of this.”

“We have some unfinished business that needs to be discussed that deals with the proposed sidewalk from the corner (of Highway 542) from Jake’s store to the (Mindemoya) hospital (on Highway 551) and all points in between,” said Mayor Richard Stephens. “We had a public meeting last night with five people in attendance.” He said members of the public did not provide a clear indication if the majority were in favour of the sidewalks being concrete or asphalt, seed or sod material being put down between the sidewalk and adjacent property owners land. “We had some questions and comments made and one of the biggest was to do with the recommendation by the MTO for a lighted and push button crosswalk. That would be a fairly expensive undertaking.”

Marshall Thompson of Tulloch Engineering presented the Mindemoya sidewalk plan. He explained the cost of concrete sidewalks would be a cost of $165 per square meter versus asphalt which would be $55 per square metre. As well, the cost for seeding would be $20 per square metre and $30 for sod per square metre. 

He noted the MTO had determined that putting a crosswalk in from Sparrow’s Nest to the Mindemoya Hospital is deemed hazardous and would require the lighted push button system. 

The original projected cost of the sidewalk plan was for $246,000 and is expected to be carried out in September. 

At the council meeting the next evening, Councillor Derek Stephens said, “I think asphalt is the way to go and for a little extra money sod would  be the best option as it takes root better.” 

“I agree with asphalt for the sidewalks,” said Councillor Dale Scott, who felt that seeding should also take place and if it is watered it would take effect.  

“On the issue of seeding or sod I don’t think it matters, either will work,” said Councillor Al Tribinevicius. “As for concrete or asphalt, concrete lasts longer and looks better.”

“There is a significant difference in the cost between asphalt and pavement,” said Councillor Steve Shaffer. “Being mindful of the costs I would favour asphalt, as long as it is thick enough weeds don’t grow through.”

This will have a base of two inches of gravel, council was told. 

“I’m no expert in seed or sod, so either way, but for the asphalt and concrete I think the cheaper cost is the one we should go with, so asphalt,” said Councillor Linda Farquhar.

Mayor Stephens told council they need to consider that the engineer had indicated that concrete sidewalks would last 50-60 years and asphalt 20-30 years and because of this asphalt would have to be replaced before concrete. Based on figures he provided, the cost of going with concrete versus asphalt, over 60 years, would be a $20,000 difference versus going with concrete over the 50-year period. 

“But this isn’t taking into account the repairs that will need to be done to the concrete over time,” said Councillor Stephens. 

“To me another big question is how many generations of taxpayers will be paying the costs of the sidewalks,” said Councillor Scott. 

Council was told this project will  be paid off in five years.
“So our current taxpayers will be paying all the costs of this project. I would say they don’t want to pay three more times the cost of the project in the end,” said Councillor Scott, who indicated he was in favour of asphalt being used.

Councillor Stephens put forward a motion for council to go with asphalt sidewalks and seeding. However, it was noted that council could not proceed without dealing with the crosswalk issue as well.  

“Do we need a crosswalk?” asked Councillor Stephens.

Councillor Shaffer said, “there is no reason to proceed with the crosswalk as part of this project for this cost. We could still lobby the MTO to put in a crosswalk.”

If council agreed with Councillor Shaffer, they could put in the tender contract for the sidewalks that this include a cut away for a possible future crosswalk. 

“Maybe we need more discussion on whether we need the crosswalk,” said Mayor Stephens. “Our engineer threw us a curve ball when he said we were being requested to have a light and push button crosswalk installed. 

“They are out to lunch on that price,” said Councillor Scott. 

Council agreed they would not include the crosswalk in the contract tendering process and would lobby the MTO to put in a crosswalk instead, and to have the tender include preparatory work being carried out to be ready if a crosswalk was ever established by the MTO. 

Council passed a motion that they proceed with the tendering process for an asphalt sidewalk along the east side of Highway 551 from the intersection with Highway 542 North to the Mindemoya Hospital with a cut away for a future crosswalk.