TEHKUMMAH – The Township of Assiginack is requesting the Township of Tehkummah to pause the vehicle load restriction on its Sixth Concession to prevent aggregate trucks from driving through The Slash, though Tehkummah council says it needs more information before it can commit to any action.
The trucks in question are originating at the Varey/McLay pits, registered through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as two lots totaling 79.3 hectares with a maximum annual tonnage of 20,000 each. One is registered as a pit, the other as both a pit and quarry.
The most direct route for these trucks to reach Highway 6 is across Assiginack’s Church Road until it ends at Slash Road (the Assiginack-Tehkummah boundary), then continuing west on Tehkummah’s Sixth Concession for another 2.5 kilometres to the intersection with Highway 6.
Tehkummah is reluctant to allow the trucks to travel on its road because of the greater roadway maintenance costs—a burden Assiginack is facing in The Slash.
“Our costs to maintain Lower Slash Road are a lot higher this year. We need to put down more calcium and residents are complaining about the dust and the condition of the road, which are legitimate complaints. So, I just asked Tehkummah to examine their policy (for the Sixth Concession load limits),” Assiginack CAO Alton Hobbs told The Expositor.
His email to Tehkummah stated that Assiginack’s council would likely support lodging an official complaint but he was hoping Tehkummah would pause the load restrictions until both municipalities could evaluate the impact of the trucks on their roads.
Assiginack receives property tax revenues from the pits—money that could be spent on its roads. Tehkummah, in contrast, would not receive any of those tax dollars despite added maintenance costs on its road.
When Tehkummah council approached the item at its July 7 meeting, Councillor Michael McKenzie requested to move into a closed session because he felt the dispute may lead to litigation.
Tehkummah clerk-administrator Silvio Berti told The Expositor following the meeting that the township has not made any decisions and would seek further discussions with Assiginack to explore the issue.
Mr. Hobbs said he understood Tehkummah’s concerns about gravel trucks on its roads but said townships should work together to support Manitoulin’s aggregate industry, as they had when they partnered with the owners to get their sites registered.
“I don’t know of any municipality that says you can only draw from a pit that’s within your municipality. I think it’s a bit disingenuous,” he said. “If they’re going to start saying ‘if we have no direct economic benefit to our municipality then we’re not going to be a good neighbour,’ I could see that causing issues down the road.”
Mr. Hobbs said his township’s council was looking forward to further discussions with Tehkummah to resolve the matter.
“It’s just an awkward situation; we would be happy to have discussions with anyone who is willing to work toward a solution,” said Mr. Hobbs.