Woolwich councillors remain split on the need for a $30-million road in Breslau, effectively putting the project on hold.
Formal votes on moving ahead on the so-called Breslau east connector road having ended in a stalemate Monday night – three votes for, three against – the project is now in limbo a week after council tentatively OK’d the idea.
Approval would have meant adding thousands of dollars to the cost of each new home built in the township for several years in order to pay for the road entirely through development charges. The new route would run between a future Dolman Street extension at Fountain Street and Greenhouse Road to the east. An estimated $14.5 million would be needed simply for an overpass to span the railroad tracks, an oversized project that would cover potential future expansion of the Metrolinx/GO Transit line.
Cost proved to be the biggest deterrent, with Coun. Scott McMillan questioning whether the road would be the best use of $30 million, adding the project would unlikely provide any significant linkage between the established older part of the village and the sprawling new developments planned to the east.
“I still don’t think the road is going to connect the communities in any meaningful way,” he said.
He was joined in opposition to the project by Coun. Patrick Merlihan and Coun. Fred Redekop.
“The overpass is the biggest stumbling block,” said Merlihan, agreeing the claimed benefits were “a little dubious,” especially at the cost.
“I don’t see there being any benefit at all to anybody for that overpass [such] that our taxpayers here should [bear] the responsibility of paying for an overpass. I have a pretty big problem with that.”
Director of infrastructure services Jared Puppe noted that the overpass option was selected to reduce the liability of an at-grade crossing.
“The risk is borne solely by the Township of Woolwich at level crossings,” he said, advocating for grade separation.
“It is a safety issue,” agreed Coun. Larry Shantz, supporting the project as a way to connect the new subdivisions to the likes of the Breslau Community Centre.
Mayor Sandy Shantz also supported the connector function.
“I have always believed that we need to pull the two communities together.”
The cost proved to be a bridge too far, however, with the overpass portion a particular concern.
Given the price tag, the liability concerns are likely an “overblown” issue, Merlihan argued, stressing the impact on future homebuyers.
“It’s a $15-million difference that we’re asking new home owners to pay for,” he said of the overpass, noting buyers are already subject to development charges running into the tens of thousands of dollars. “Where’s it going to stop?”
Council may revisit the issue at a later date if new information becomes available. Eventually, the township will have to make a decision on what to do with a $300,000 environmental assessment (EA) that identified the route for the proposed roadway.