It would cost approximately $4 million to bring Bear Lake Road up to standard where it could be maintained throughout the winter months.
That’s according to an estimate from engineering firm AECOM which was received by Algonquin Highlands councillors during their Sept. 1 meeting.
For years residents of Bear Lake Road have been requesting the township maintain the municipally owned road on a year-round basis.
The seasonal road does not meet requirements for winter maintenance and would require the reconstruction of a 6.5-kilometre portion to make it passable for snow plows.
According to the report from AECOM that reconstruction would require the excavation of earth and rock significant surface treatment and the installation of culverts among other jobs.
With taxes the total estimated price tag is $4.1 million.
“The estimate was established without the advantage of any field surveys except for a drive-through” the AECOM report reads. “The final quantities will not be known until field surveys are obtained and a design is prepared. The final cost of the work will not be known until it is tendered out to private contractors. The estimate is therefore our best assessment at this time. The unit prices used are consistent with those experienced at this time on similar work in the area.”
In the past council has proposed a local improvement agreement whereby the property owners who would benefit from the road improvements would collectively pay for them after which the township would assume winter maintenance of the road.
According to the AECOM report estimating there are 120 property owners who’d benefit from the project the cost would work out to more than $34000 per property.
“To me this is the end for me” said Reeve Carol Moffatt. “We did what we said we were going to do.”
Moffatt noted that property owners in the past have said they were not interested in the concept of a local improvement agreement.
Seventy-five per cent of them would have to agree to the terms of an agreement for it to be enforced.
Councillor Brian Lynch thought the scope of the work in the report was more than required.
“I don’t believe we have to do all these things to make it safe to plow it” Lynch said.
“How does any member of council have the expertise to make that call?” Moffatt replied.
“I’m sure there are hazards on other roads” Lynch said.
The AECOM report does suggest that if the work was performed by the township as municipal project there would be a cost savings.
“The HST has been included in our estimate” the report reads. “As a municipal project the township can recover a percentage of that amount. If this was rolled back to the benefitting owners the cost to each would be reduced by about $3000.”
Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen noted this difference in cost estimation.
“Are there two standards?” Danielsen asked. “That’s what I’d like to know.”
Council decided to request more information on why the cost would be lowered if the work was taken on as a municipal project.