The Town of Bracebridge is preparing itself for a most unwelcome guest – the emerald ash borer.
During Tuesday’s general committee meeting, councillors agreed to chip in $1,000 towards a project that the Muskoka Conservancy is undertaking to hang and monitor borer prism traps in Bracebridge. The project’s aim is also to engage volunteers, provide a public outreach workshop, awareness and education, and submit a project report with recommendations.
The ash borer attacks all species of true ash found in North America and kills any size or age, including healthy trees. The borer was first detected in Windsor in 2002 and significant outbreaks were reported in the Barrie in recent years. Although it has not yet been reported in Muskoka, it has been moving steadily north.
“The aggressiveness of this infestation, although somewhat inevitable, is unsettling,” said Coun. Rick Maloney. “There are things we can do to educate people.”
Maloney said one of the biggest causes behind the spread of the infestation is people carrying firewood from infected areas to non-infected areas.
Council approves night work for lengthy Highway 11 project
Get ready for potential traffic headaches, as an upcoming rehabilitation project on Highway 11 is expected to last nearly two years.
On Tuesday the Town’s general committee signed off an agreement to allow Fowler Construction to work on the project during the night, in order to speed things up. None the less, the project, which covers a 12 km stretch from North Muskoka River Bridge to South Mary Lake Road, has a scheduled end date of December 2017.
The project will include pavement rehabilitation of both the south and northbound lanes, as well as repair work on the culverts and the guide rails.
Coun. Mark Quemby said he was concerned that the public hadn’t been properly informed of council’s discussion on the project.
Town staff said they would get in touch with Fowler to see if there was a way to keep nearby property owners informed as to when the overnight work might be occurring.
Councillor fumes over District backpedalling
A last minute District decision to back out of road repairs in Bracebridge had at least one councillor hot under the collar during Tuesday’s general committee meeting.
The committee was discussing $629,356 worth of road repairs to be done in conjunction with the District when they were informed by staff that the District was likely not going to proceed with their repairs for Dawsonwood Road or Ecclestone Drive.
Walt Schmid said the specifics of postponement were unclear, as they had only received the message form District hours earlier. He said the District indicated they couldn’t go ahead with either project because they were “behind on their design work.”
Coun. Maloney called the move “ridiculous,” and pointed out the town was right in the middle of trying to tender out road projects.
“I’m pretty agitated that we’re being led along by a public works master that really doesn’t have their act together,” said Maloney. “I’m not sure what they’re doing (at the District office) on Pine Street but they’re not helping us.”
Town approves new parking lot, entrance ramp and signage
A variety of projects were approved during the Tuesday morning general committee meeting in Bracebridge, including a $57,725 expansion of the parking lots at Peake Fields. Staff told the committee that the field has become so busy people are forced to park on Taylor Road, causing safety issues.
A new accessible ramp was approved for the town hall at a cost of $77,965. Several councillors put forward ideas for new designs on an entranceway but in the end they agreed to staff’s recommendation of a heated stairway and ramp system.
A number of traffic sign replacements throughout town also got the go ahead for $9,807, and a new half-ton truck was approved for $29,495.