Little if any traffic other than gravel trucks will use it, but a portion of Jigs Hollow Road will be paved, with Woolwich Township tossing $50,000 into the project. A move by Ward 3 councillor Bonnie Bryant to rescind a previous cost-sharing agreement fell short in a split vote at council Tuesday night.
The 3-2 decision leaves in place that portion of a deal with Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel, agreed to in November when the previous council, in its parting act, gave conditional approval to the company’s gravel pit application.
Bryant and Mayor Todd Cowan voted to scrap the deal, with the other three members willing to stay the course.
For Coun. Mark Bauman, the sole returning member of the previous council, the decision to retain the paving deal was much the same as his vote to grant conditional approval to the pit: reducing the amount of issues at play should the battle go before an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.
Noting that the expense was not justified given that the gravel road was an unlikely candidate for paving, he said honouring the original deal avoid giving the impression of “waffling” in future legal proceedings, which are all but guaranteed to come.
The stretch of Jigs Hollow Road is to be paved from the proposed pit entrance to Northfield Drive. It’s the township that is requesting the asphalt surface – the applicant would prefer to retain the gravel road rather than pay for paving, estimated to cost $130,000. Given an annual expense of $5,000 to maintain that 1.2-kilometre portion of the road, paving it would save the township $50,000 over the 10-year lifespan of the pit, explained director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.
In response to a question from Bryant, he noted that the cost of maintaining the gravel road would be even higher due to the abuse of truck traffic, prompting the request to pave the road.
Coun. Julie-Anne Herteis, looking at ways to reduce the outlay, suggested the township look at providing Kuntz with $5,000 a year over the next 10 years rather than paying a lump sum upfront.
The project itself would be handled by the township, with Kuntz Topsoil, Sand and Gravel eligible to bid on the tender that would be called, Kennaley noted.
The issue of the road, paved or gravel, could be rendered moot, however, based on the ultimate outcome of the gravel pit application.
Although granted conditional approval by the previous council, the applicant must still file additional studies, after which another staff report will be considered by the current council, which will make a decision on the zone change needed to permit the extraction bid to go ahead. Ultimately, however, the whole thing is likely to end up before the OMB, either as a result of an appeal by the applicant or by the resident groups determined to prevent a gravel pit adjacent to their neighbourhoods.
The Kuntz proposal calls for rezoning some 90 acres of agricultural land at 125 Peel St. to permit extraction on approximately half the property, which contains an estimated 840,000 tonnes of aggregate.