Public Works: Facts and Fiction

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by Councillor John Barclay with help from Public Works staff

In the past six months as the Council Liaison to Public Works, I’ve come to appreciate both the scale and scope of the work that a relatively small number of staff undertake on behalf of the residents of North Grenville. I’ve learned a great deal about what the department does, how it does it and how it’s paid for. I’m still learning. A month ago, Council spent the better part of a day touring the various Municipal facilities and assets we own. It was a real eye-opener. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve discovered and provide some clarification of what are commonly held misperceptions about the department.

First of all, here are the things that the Public Works Department handles: Road Maintenance – both Rural and Urban, Storm Water (Pipes, ditches and storm ponds), Waste Management (our Transfer Station and reporting for inactive Landfill Sites), Water and Waste Water (Treatment, pipes and sewers), Engineering, Capital Construction and Development.

Here are three misconceptions that seem to have staying power in the community:

  1. There are absolutely NO plans to meter or tax private wells and septic systems by North Grenville
  2. Only the water and sewer users of Kemptville pay for the service, it’s not funded by your property tax, user fees are based on a base rate and consumption.
  3. Currently there is no curbside pick-up of yard waste (brush or leaves). The transfer station in Oxford Mills will take it but it charges for brush ($65/tonne with a $5 minimum) and solid waste. There are, however, no fees for recyclables, tires or hazardous waste at the station.

Here are some interesting facts:

  1. North Grenville has over 300 km of roadways, about 170 km are paved and about 130 km are gravel. In order for a gravel road to be considered for pavement: the roadway should have a vehicle count of over 400 cars per day, have a good gravel sub-base and be easily incorporated into the winter road plowing routes.
  2. Public Works has a single road crew shift comprised of 12 full-time and 7 winter casual or contract workers including one mechanic.
  3. The graders (3), sidewalk machines (3), dump truck/plows (6) and other vehicles are housed in one urban garage and one rural garage in Oxford Mills. A full-time mechanic works from the rural garage keeping everything in tip top shape.
  4. North Grenville has no active landfill sites. The Kemptville and South Gower sites are formally closed and the Burritts Rapids and Oxford Mills sites are mothballed. The garbage goes to Moose Creek, about an hour east of Kemptville. On Mondays and Thursdays, Public Works typically takes three to four 53′ trailers to the Moose Creek land fill. During the last waste audit, over 50% of North Grenville’s solid waste was composed of organic matter that could have been composted. Cut your bag tag budget in half.
  5. North Grenville is considered to be relatively flat. The majority of the municipally ranges between 90 to 110 metres above sea level, a differential of only about 60 feet. All and all, with very little topographic relief, landowners within the municipality constantly struggle to maintain and ensure adequate drainage. From my limited experience, once the phone calls and emails have ended about snow clearance and pot-holes, Public Works is dealing frequently with drainage concerns.
  6. Over the past few years, requests for traffic assessments for calming, speed and stop signs have increased dramatically. When the request is received, a speed assessment and traffic count is completed to determine if the speeds are in excess of the posted limit and are in compliance with Traffic Standards. If the speed is excessive, a request for enforcement is communicated to the Police Service Board for consideration.
  7. Cross walk painting is scheduled, weather dependent, when with the street sweeping in town is done and the road is dry.

A couple of questions:

What is a traffic calming policy? It’s a policy that gives a consistent approach to how to deal with speed concerns; whether or not speed bumps are required or other traffic calming methods, the bump outs are called for. Those are all traffic calming methods.

What if I have a complaint or concern about my water bill? Public Works have a toilet leak kit they can provide. A water operator can be arranged to inspect the residence for the places we normally find leaks. If financial assistance is required, there are a few programs; the LEAP program out of Brockville, the OESP credit- application based program, and the Ontario Works has assistance programs.

MORE QUESTIONS or CONCERNS? There’s no wrong door to knock on – contact me, another Councillor or the Public Works Department directly and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

John Barclay
Councillor, Liaison to Public Works
[email protected]
613-322-8132 (Direct) or 613-875-4012

Karen Dunlop
Director of Public Works
[email protected]
613-258-9569 ext.132

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