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Woolwich toughens process in reaction to poor surface treatment work

Woolwich has changed the process for both how it resurfaces tar-and-chip roads and monitors contractors doing the work in response to substandard work.

Conestogo resident Gerry Bucking has been riding township staff hard since a poor job was done resurfacing his street, Grandview Drive, in 2013. Though the contractor eventually redid the job in 2015, he remains unsatisfied with the process, particularly township’s response to his complaints. He also sees as a waste of tax dollars some $16,000 extra paid to the contractor, Cornell Construction, for upgraded emulsion and gravel chips used in redoing the work.

Although councillors appeared satisfied a lesson had been learned, Bucking’s frustration boiled over at times as he made a presentation to them Tuesday night.

“Why am I, as a taxpayer, paying them $16,000?” he asked of the upgrades, arguing the materials were what should have been used in keeping with the original tender for the job. “I’m really disgusted with this. The taxpayers have been ripped off.”

Dan Kennaley, the township’s director of engineering and planning, disagreed with Bucking the $16,000 was a reward for doing a poor job the first time around, maintaining the money paid for actual upgrades that ensure the roads treated in 2015 will hold up much longer.

He did agree, however, with Bucking’s assessment the original job was “certainly deficient.”

The township withheld payment for the work until it was done properly two years later.

“I think we did get value,” said Kennaley.

For Coun. Murray Martin, the 2015 work done on Grandview Drive and elsewhere in Conestogo was good enough to have him change his mind about phasing out tar-and-chip roads in the settlement areas in favour of asphalt.

Martin moved to end debate on the issue, arguing the township had done everything it could to address Bucking’s concerns.

“I think we’ve spent enough time on this.”

Bucking, however, remained unconvinced the township recognizes the errors of its ways – reacting angrily when he felt his concerns weren’t addressed before council dismissed him.

Striking a more conciliatory tone, Coun. Patrick Merlihan said Bucking’s persistence helped bring to council’s attention a problem that needed to be dealt with.

“We’ve been assured as a council that this is never going to happen again,” he said.

Along with higher standards to be specified in future tenders for surface treatment contracts, Woolwich staff will provide constant oversight of the work to ensure it’s done properly, said Kennaley, acknowledging the 2013 work was not supervised properly.

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