Grey Highlands council has pressed pause on a plan to end a winter road maintenance agreement it has with the Town of The Blue Mountains.
At its meeting on July 20, council deferred a staff report and recommendation that would have given notice to The Blue Mountains (TBM) that Grey Highlands was ending the Pretty River Road winter maintenance agreement.
The agreement sees Grey Highlands providing winter maintenance to the 4.5 km road. Grey Highlands provides plowing, patrol, sand/salt and snow bank removal services and bills the cost back to TBM. Grey Highlands has charged TBM $14,463 and $13,299 the past two years for this service. To reach this road, TBM plows would have to drive down Grey Highlands roads.
In a report on the matter, Transportation Director Chris Cornfield said Grey Highlands has seen increasing complaints from local residents about snow plowing services in that area of the municipality over the past several years. Staff also have liability concerns about providing winter road service to another municipality.
The agreement with TBM can be cancelled anytime between May 1 and September 15 of any calendar year. The agreement has been in place since 2015.
Mayor Paul McQueen asked that the recommendation be deferred until he and senior staff were able to have a direct conversation with the mayor and senior staff of TBM.
“It’s prudent to have a meeting, we’re terminating something that has been in place for quite a long time,” said McQueen.
The mayor noted that the road is “landlocked” for TBM and it didn’t make sense from a climate change perspective to have a plow from one municipality driving down the roads of another to reach a single road.
“What are we actually saving? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Maybe it gets plowed last if that is a concern of our residents,” said McQueen. “Should we not have that conversation at a high level? My point is to defer this and talk about this as good neighbours.”
CAO Karen Govan explained that the recommendation to end the agreement is not about finances.
“It’s a capacity issue, not a financial issue. Grey Highlands is growing and we’re going to assume more roads in subdivisions that need to be plowed. Staff do receive a lot of complaints from that area,” she said.
In a tight 4-3 vote, council agreed with McQueen and voted to defer the decision until council’s next meeting on August 3.