Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy opposes the merger of the Renfrew County District Health Unit with another health unit.

Pembroke – In a saga which appears to have no end, the challenges of reconstruction of County Road 512 are continuing and Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy was not reticent to express her displeasure during County council.

“I am a very patient person. I generally do not get angry. I am at the point of pure unmitigated anger,” she said last Wednesday morning.

Her anger was not directed at County staff, she stressed, but at the latest roadblock toward reconstruction, this one coming from Hydro which has stated the utility relocations on part of the project will not be completed by June as originally planned on the section from Buelow Road to Miller Road.

“This is unacceptable on the part of Hydro,” Mayor Murphy said. “We have been patient – my residents have been patient – to the point of utter frustration.”

To have a hydro pole standing in the way of a road “which desperately needs rehabilitation” is disgraceful, she said.

The County report showed staff received a call from Hydro One on March 28 noting the section from Harrington Creek to Buelow Road will be completed by both Hydro and Bell by the end of May. However the report noted the Class A estimate for the section from Buelow Road to Miller Road is nearly completion and the work will not be completed by June. As a result, staff asked the design consultant to review the option of completing road work in that section prior to the relocation of the utilities.

“Unfortunately, some utility poles would be in direct conflict with the realigned sections of the road,” the report stated. “As such, the consultant has recommended that the tender for the road works in 2023 include both Part 1 and Part 2 but specify a completion date in 2024.”

This would note that the utility relocation for the second section would not be competed until October as a conservative estimate.  As well, the tender would specify “no section of roadway shall be left without base course asphalt over any winter shutdown period and all paving shall be completed prior to November 15, 2023.”

Mayor Murphy said this was not acceptable and said she had a meeting scheduled on the following Monday with the vice present of distribution for Hydro One, which she invited Warden Peter Emon also to participate in.

She said the delays on this project were unacceptable.

“The finger pointing with Hydro and Bell was epic,” she said.

This is an improatnt issue for residents in her township, she stressed.

“I am the one who has to appeal to my residents,” she said. “I am beyond angry now.”

Included in the Operations Report was the cost estimate for the relocation of Hydro One which came in at $423,740.13 plus tax. This is for the section from Buelow Road to Miller Road. The county is responsible for 50 percent of costs associated with labour and labour saving devices, which is reflected in the estimate.

“As Hydro One is the only entity available to complete these works, the award of these services is required to be competed under a non-competitive bid process,” the report noted.

Admaston/Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue pointed out going back to 2022 the phases were known to both Hydro and Bell.

“As work has progressed at the pace of a sloth, it seems absurd in a year in we are only now getting the estimate on what it will cost to do this,” he said.

A delay from any business in providing an estimate is not acceptable, the mayor said.

“This is something that is shameful.”

Warden Emon said the county has expressed their displeasure at both Hydro and Bell due to the delays on this project.

“It is no secret we are not happy,” he said.

The county will keep working on this, he added.

“We fully intend to engage as best we can,” he said.

Ongoing Issues on 512

The ongoing issues on County Road 512, which was slated for reconstruction several years ago include a reluctance of some property owners to sell land for the realignment of the roadway. As far back at 2021, BV council was complaining about the state of the road,  including asking for the speed limit to be lowered because the road was not safe for traffic.

Last year a delegation from the county came to BV council to explain why the project would not be completed in 2022. It had originally been slated for reconstruction in 2021.

The project was first delayed because of challenges purchasing property which was necessary for the realignment. Then the road needed to have extensive brushing done and both Hydro and Bell poles relocated. Last year the county was informed the utilities would not be able to be relocated until 2023, causing a delay in the project.

When the county officials were at BV last year, Mayor Murphy pointed out the west end of the project is the worst part and needs to be completed quickly, she said.

“The entire section needs to be done,” she said. “Immediately, if not sooner.”

The road is not good, she said, noting she drove it recently and had to drive 40 kph in that stretch. It has also continued to deteriorate as the delays linger on, she said.  

“Extremely dangerous,” she said.

This impacts the traveling public, including residents from BV and nearby Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan who travel that road, the mayor said.

Cautiously Optimistic

Mayor Murphy told the Leader on Tuesday morning she felt hopefully optimistic after her talk with the vice-president for distribution for Hydro.

“He definitely understands the frustration we are feeling,” she said. “And the warden joined in on the call, which is fantastic because this is a county road.”

The mayor said she felt her concerns were listening to and they did make some headway.

“I will now more when he meets with his team,” she added.

The reconstruction project on this busy stretch of road in BV is one which has dragged on too long, she said.

“This is unfair on the people who live on the road and travel the road,” she said. “So, we are not sitting on our hands on this.”

Mayor Murphy said she is hoping to hear work will progress sooner than anticipated in the part 2 of the project.

“He did say October at the lasts but that does not bode well for road reconstruction,” she said. “I asked for it to be August at the latest.”

The county did put out a RFP for both parts, Mayor Murphy said.