By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 11 2017
Fowler Construction will take over highway maintenance of provincial highways within the Huntsville district which includes Haliburton County beginning in September of 2018.
The Ministry of Transportation announced last September that it was bringing an early end to its contract with multinational corporation Carillion which took over maintenance of provincial highways in the district in 2012.
“The Ministry of Transportation and Carillion have mutually agreed to end the contract for the Huntsville area” read an email from ministry communication staff at the time. “This is a mutual decision between the two organizations based on what is best for the province the travelling public and for Carillion. Retendering the contract for the Huntsville area provides the opportunity for MTO to make enhancements to the services provided under the maintenance contract.”
The 11-year contract with Carillion worth $12 million a year began in 2012 and many county residents noticed a sharp decline in the quality of snow clearing along highways 35 and 118. What residents have called dangerous winter conditions prompted many letters to the editor during the past few years. Haliburton County council sent correspondence with its concerns to the provincial government and councillors along with MPP Laurie Scott have met with MTO reps regarding the issue in the past.
The MTO has confirmed that Muskoka-based Fowler Construction which held the contract prior to it be awarded to Carillion has received the new contract for the Huntsville district which will include the maintenance of highways 35 and 118 through most of Haliburton County.
“The new contract begins on Sept. 1 2018” reads an email from communications staff. “The new contract is for a term of seven years with a potential extension for one additional year.”
Fowler had previously subcontracted out snow removal services to local companies such as Carnarvon’s Francis Thomas Contracting.
“I’m glad to report that we’re back in the driver’s seat” said Moreen Miller president of Fowler Construction adding she thought the province had heard public concerns and that the new contract signified positive progress.
As for whether snow removal will be contracted out to local companies “We’re in the very stages of determining how the pieces of the contract will be put together” Miller said. “Certainly Fowler’s goal is to employ as many local people as possible.”
Local politicians are pleased with the change.
“I heard nothing but complaints about Carillion and what appeared to many to be a substantial decline in service” Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt told the paper. “Safety was the main concern we heard over and over. Well-maintained highways are critical to a rural environment so here’s hoping the change back to Fowler provides a more acceptable service level and increased public satisfaction.”