Major repairs needed on Michael’s Bay Road, township council hears

Tehkummah township council heard a delegation from residents of Michael’s Bay road and Pennie Avenue, who voiced concerns with the condition of the roads and to indicate that necessary repairs are needed.

TEHKUMMAH—Local residents, Tehkummah township councillors and the roads superintendent all agree that work needs to be done on the Michael’s Bay Road (and others), and steps will be taken to do the necessary repairs.

“We had some local residents at our (council) meeting with concerns about Michael’s Bay Road,” said Dave Jaggard, reeve of Tehkummah township after a council meeting earlier this month. “We all agree that the Michael’s Bay Road is not in good shape and major work needs to be done on it. We will have some work done on the road after we see where we can find funds in our budget.” He said the township will also be actively looking for funding programs through the government to have the necessary work done.

“I was down there recently and I’ve never seen the road like that before,” said Councillor Eric Russell. “I’m ashamed to be a councillor on the township council with the road in that condition. Maybe someone can help us to source funding that we could use on the road.”

Councillor Rick Gordon said, “Oh, of course there needs to be work done on the road. And we’ve been talking about it for awhile. Personally, I think we spent too much on the 15th and 10th Concessions. It would have been better to spend some of this on the Government Road and Michael’s Bay roads.”

This comes after council heard a delegation from residents of Michael’s Bay Road and Pennie Avenue at a council meeting April 5. “I am here tonight with other concerned citizens to express my concerns about Michael’s Bay Road and Pennie Road,” said Elaine Leeson. “I have been a permanent resident at Pennie Avenue since 2017. In the sales listing, when I purchased my home, it was stated, “year-round road access,” however every spring that has not been the case. Taxes also have increased several times over five years, but road conditions have deteriorated.”

“The annual spring thaw turns Michael’s Bay Road/Pennie Avenue into practically impassable roads, riddled with significant deep muddy ruts and flooding. This road is a critical connecting road for the resident to the Government Road and services,” said Ms. Leeson. “Given its condition, the road is unsafe and poses a significant risk.”

“As the connecting road, Michael’s Bay Road and Pennie Avenue must be maintained in a condition to allow for safe passage of any emergency vehicles that may need to attend the residences or cottage properties along this road,” said Ms. Leeson. “Currently, I would suggest it is fair to say that a fire truck or ambulance would not make it through. This alone causes unnecessary stress to the taxpayers as we live with the concern of limited or no access due to its poor condition which has the potential to put family and friends at risk in the event of a medical emergency or fire. The impact of the conditions of the disrepair is compounded by those who need to access it. We have only one way in and out, there is no alternate route. As residents who live on this road, we have been denied deliveries such as heating oil furniture and lumber.”

“In addition to the mental stress caused by not knowing if we can get in and out, or whether an emergency vehicle could get in and out is the related issue of the impact of protecting our assets, our homes, cottages etc.,” said Ms. Leeson. She pointed out, “collectively the township receives tax revenue from all properties, homes and cottages along the Michael’s Bay Road and Pennie Avenue. The taxpayers pay a significant amount of taxes and receive limited services.”

Ms. Leeson explained, “The road is damaging vehicles, many residents have helped others out when their vehicle is stuck in the mud; or provided towing services if they can even get through to the disabled vehicle. The resident then has to pay for this service as well as any repairs (to their vehicles) because of the road.”

“Although I am not a road engineer, I understand from a number of experienced individuals that the size of gravel dumped on the road last spring did not provide a proper base,” continued Ms. Leeson. “I have looked back at previous council notes and have found that Michael’s Bay Road/Pennie Road have not even had an honourable mention about the deplorable road conditions even though I know for a fact people have complained about the condition of the road every spring.”

“I would suggest that the reeve and council drive down our road for a visual of the conditions that we are subjected to,” said Ms. Leeson. She requested, on behalf of the citizens, a copy of the township road maintenance standards policy along with the logs and details of how the road has been maintained for the past five years that the township provide a detailed response as to how the road will be repaired in the short term and that repairs be tended to immediately and as often as required; that a permanent long-term repair be put into place; and that the township provide a detailed response as to how this chronic issue will be resolved, thereby correct the problem going forward so we do not have to revisit this issue yearly.

“It is the township’s responsibility to build, maintain and replace infrastructure,” said Ms. Leeson. “I am therefore requesting that you meet your responsibility and immediately address the issue and concerns brought forward to you.”

Councillor Mike McKenzie told The Expositor, “Absolutely, the Michael’s Bay Road needs to get fixed, but unfortunately there is only so much money to go around. I hate the answer, but we need to tap into a government funding program. The 10th Concession needs work as well. We will get our EDO (economic development officer) on it, looking for government funding programs.”

“The Government Road is a mess as well,” said Councillor McKenzie. “As council, we also have to be responsible as well and not raise taxes any more than is necessary. He explained, “last year Kevin (Dunlop, township roads superintendent) repaired a section of the road, and that section is good.”

Councillor Lori Leeson stated, “oh my goodness yes, the road needs to fixed.” She told The Expositor that, “local residents have been sending emails and attending our meetings voicing concerns. This road has to be looked after. And work is going to be carried out in sections, starting with the worst.”

“Hopefully, we will be able to find funding out there,” said Councillor Leeson. “I know Kevin (Dunlop) has a plan as to what needs to be looked at first. Yes, work needs to be done and we are working on it.”

Reeve Jaggard said,  “work needs to be done on the road, but we have to figure out how to fit it in our budget.” He explained, “the road down into where the old village of Michael’s Bay used to be was a dirt road. It was geared more to horses and sleighs. Then more buildings went up, and gravel was put down. Some places are going to require extra work removing some of the base and put down larger rock and gravel.”  He pointed out that when the Highway 542 in Sandfield was repaired by the bridge,  rip-wrap (synthetic material) was put down as well as two-three inches of rock and gravel. In some of the areas of the (Michael’s Bay Road) something similar has to be done. “Within our budget, some work will be done this spring to improve the road. We will do the best we can with what we have. But we need to see if there is some government funding available as well.” 

Tehkummah Roads Superintendent Kevin Dunlop said, “we will do as much as we can to fix the road as we can, depending on how much money council can allocate for it in the budget.”

“The access road to the boat launch is closed, but we will soon have a road that vehicles can go down there,” said Mr. Dunlop. “People understand why we have had to close off the road to just local traffic for now. Right now, we are trying to get the road into good enough shape that people can drive on it. We will have to keep it closed a little while longer and see what council can budget for repairs.”