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Price tag for road overhaul gives Grey Highlands council pause

With borrowing costs rising and a tough budget process looming, councillors express concerns about Alice Street project
Grey Highlands is working on a plan to upgrade Alice Street in Flesherton.

With money getting tight, Grey Highlands council may be having second thoughts about a significant infrastructure project in Flesherton.

At its meeting on Nov. 15, Grey Highlands council received an update about the Alice Street reconstruction project in Flesherton. Staff reported to council that engineers have completed 95 per cent of the design work for the project and the municipality is now in position to move forward into the tendering process for the work.

The project would include:

  • An improved street alignment
  • A consistent street width of 6.5 metres
  • Curbs, gutters and sidewalks being added
  • Significant upgrades to underground stormwater infrastructure, which includes an oil grit separator
  • As part of the work, a hydro pole on the street will have to be relocated

Staff estimate that the project will cost more than $1.4 million. Council approved $558,019 for the work in the 2021 budget. The 2024 budget will bring forward the remaining amount for consideration, with staff noting that debt financing could be used for the rest of the project.

If council provides final approval, tenders for the project would go out early in 2024 once the budget process is complete.

“It’s a lot of money for 900 metres,” said Coun. Paul Allen after seeing the numbers.

Mayor Paul McQueen raised a yellow caution flag on the project and pointed to Grey County’s tough budget as a reason to be wary of such a major capital expense.

“Debenturing costs are a lot different now,” noted McQueen. “The county is going through an exercise (to set the 2024 budget) and they’re struggling. This will be an interesting discussion around budget time.”

The latest report did not ask for council’s approval of the financing for the project, it was an update about the status of the project.

Chris Cornfield, director of transportation and public spaces, said if the budget process determines there is no funding for the work - the project will be put on hold.

“If it’s not approved, we won’t tender,” he said.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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