Assiginack agrees to renew road maintenance agreement with cottagers association

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MANITOWANING—After a recorded vote, Assiginack municipal township council has agreed to renew the current maintenance agreement with the South Bay Cottagers Association for maintenance work on Leask Bay Road.

“I would like to see everything close up (in the agreement), to see if we have all cottage owners on the road in agreement and if they all have insurance,” said Councillor Dave McDowell at a council meeting last week.

“I’ve read the current agreement and originally I thought we (Assiginack) were only providing snow plowing. But the agreement doesn’t outline our (township municipal) obligations,” said Councillor Christianna Jones. “It only says the owners (of properties) allow (work to be done); it doesn’t spell out that the township will provide these maintenance services. We need to be clear on what we are providing. And any maintenance we do on the road I understand would be at our (public works departments) discretion.”

Reeve Dave Ham noted that the cottagers association members jumped a lot of hoops to get the agreement signed and that the property owners do have insurance.

Councillor Hugh Moggy said that under the agreement, the township is expected to provide such maintenance as road grading, snowplowing, brushing, culverts, fill etc.

“But the contract lease contract doesn’t say the township will provide this. It says owners said they have agreed to have the work done,” stressed Councillor Jones.

“I think we should fulfill this current  agreement that was reached three years, and get on with it,” stated Councillor Moggy.

“I agree one hundred percent,” said Mayor Ham.

Councillor McDowell raised the concern, “what happens if something happens and we are on property we don’t have permission to be on,” noting that a few of the road’s residents have not signed the agreement. When it was mentioned the municipality’s insurance company approved the agreement, “that was for those who have signed the agreement,” he said.

“Let’s get clarification,” suggested Councillor Rob Maguire, and Councillor McDowell agreed, saying a couple of more weeks to get this information would not be a bad thing.

“How long has this been going on,” said Councillor Moggy. “The agreement is for three years and thus far we have had no problems.”

Maureen Marion, a member of the cottagers’ association, told council that “to my knowledge even the three new people on the road have signed the agreement.”  A deeded right-of-way allows for construction, maintenance etc. without consent by any of the cottage owners. Construction can happen without express consent of any landowner.”

Councillor McDowell said part of the problem with a right-of-way is that when the property was deeded, these weren’t always drawn up properly.

Ms. Marion said originally, when the road was put in, a lot of people were against this being established, but this was overturned and was deeded correctly. “Yes, it is a legally deeded right-of-way. “Up to now we have been pleased with the work done by the township, and (seasonal) closure on the road,” she said. “We haven’t asked for anything extra. We need you to honour the agreement so the road will be upgraded. For some reason this spring this was an issue. We understand this is a private road, need help to maintain it.”

“Are we providing winter maintenance with grading of the road?” asked Councillor McDowell.

“Don’t forget we pay a large amount of taxes to the municipality per year, and that it’s a binding agreement,” said Ms. Marion

Mr. Hobbs noted that with winter maintenance and grading, in the agreement, it says this is at the discretion of the public works foreman.

“I agree we should honour our commitment to the agreement,” said Councillor Moggy. 

Council considered a resolution to reinstate the current agreement. Councillor McDowell called for a recorded vote, with Mayor Ham, Councillors Jones, Maguire and Moggy in favour. Councillor McDowell cast the only vote in opposition.