The following is a letter I have sent to the Township to request more information and assurances with respect to the Truck traffic and Pit along Harris Road. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your comments or concerns.
July 18, 2017
Dear Ms. Bird (Chief Administrative Officer), Ms. Moffatt (Reeve) and all councillors of the Township of Algonquin Highlands,
The residents, cottagers, and vacationers of Oxtongue Lake are extremely concerned about the increased operations occurring at the MTO pit located on Harris Road (the “Pit”). The figures we have used in this letter are taken from the Information Sheet released by the Township of Algonquin Highlands on July 13, 2017. Given our understanding that the plan is to blend the 54,000 tonnes of asphalt grindings approved for delivery to the Pit with new material for reuse at some future time, we can only assume that the number of trucks taking the material away will be even higher than the number first bringing it in. The calculated number of trucks required for such a project is immense and, as recently monitored by one of our residents, has at times resulted in a truck every few minutes. This has prompted the Oxtongue Lake Association to request fulsome information from the Township as to what steps have been, and will be, taken to address the following major concerns:
a)How has the Township addressed the safety of ALL residents, vacationers, and tourists on Harris Road?
The huge number of trucks needed for this project cannot simply be dismissed as a minor inconvenience to just a few residents. The timing of this project is during a peak period for all residents, vacationers, and tourists along Harris road. These residents, vacationers, and tourists travel by car to get to and from their vacation homes and residences, as well as using Harris Road for outdoor activities such as running/walking/cycling (please note this includes teens and young children as well). The very real safety concerns are not in any way limited to the 6 residences between Highway 60 and the Pit. Furthermore, these immediate safety concerns do not even touch on the noise and fumes from the magnitude of truck traffic, which is not in keeping with the quiet vacation atmosphere of the area during the summer season.
b)How has the township addressed the environmental concerns for all residents, tourists, and vacationers that use Oxtongue Lake?
The Pit is located adjacent to large known wetland areas, one of which drains directly into Oxtongue Lake. It is well established that asphalt leachate is hazardous to both human and ecological health. The Pit’s use as a storage location for such leachate could have a significant negative impact on the water table, on Oxtongue Lake itself (through drainage into the lake) and on surrounding residents’ wells. Were steps taken by the township to ensure that the Pit has appropriate drainage, treatment facilities or other ecological safeguards in place, in each case, to deal with such leachate prior to approving the Pit’s use for this project?
c)What documented assurances are there that the costs of road damage caused by the increased truck traffic, in future years from now, will not, in fact, be borne by the taxpayers of Algonquin Highlands?
We would be surprised, as laymen and as people who purchased properties on what was supposed to be a country residential road, if Harris Road was designed for this amount of heavy truck traffic. We are all very aware of spring half load restrictions put in place by the Township on this public road to prevent damage. It is difficult for us to understand how the Township has the power to limit truck traffic in those circumstances but seemingly is unable to limit the truck traffic to and from the Pit for this project. Has it been explored a limit to the number of trucks on a residential road in a given day or week year-round by the same property owner? While we appreciate that the MTO has said that they will fix any damage, will that damage be visible immediately or will it only appear years from now, and does the legal agreement with the MTO specify who will pay for damage that is only revealed at a later date?
As we understand the Pit was originally constructed for the removal of some new material, rather than as a storage facility or place to haul in new material, this project has changed the very nature and purpose of its existence. We do not feel it is a minor issue and calls into question how a pit of this nature can be managed alongside a populated residential country road. The Oxtongue Lake Association would like information on how these community concerns are being addressed at this time and what further steps will be taken to manage the later phases of this project and any future projects.
President, Oxtongue Lake Association.