Sandy Casselman
Record Staff

MORRISBURG – Coco Paving Inc. has been chosen to complete the Morrisburg Roundabout and Streetscaping project, which is expected to get underway this year.

“From the county point of view, right now, all systems are a go,” Municipality of South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds said during a special June 7 council meeting, noting that the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG) council had approved the project earlier in the day. “If we decide tonight that we do not want to do the project anymore due to budget reasons, they will go ahead and do their share of the project and leave us on the sidelines. I’m not sure how that works with the funding model.

While SDG is responsible for roughly 84 per cent of the project, South Dundas is expected to cover the remaining 16 per cent, which is an over-budget amount of roughly $812,913.65 plus HST. The June 7 session saw council approve the project, including staff recommendations on financing the shortfall. Councillor Lloyd Wells was absent from the roughly 20-minute meeting.

Chief administrative officer Shannon Geraghty and economic development officer Rob Hunter provided brief updates. Each council member then shared their position with all being unanimously in favour of moving forward.

“It’s a project that I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on,” Deputy-Mayor Kirsten Gardner said. “Given the fact that the roundabout is going to be there anyway, our elements adding to it will make it something special. I think we are missing, in Morrisburg, that Main Street feel and while the roundabout will not replace what was lost during the Seaway, I do think that it will be an improvement on what is currently there.

Councillor Don Lewis said he would like to see the project completed, as it will make the area safer not only for drivers, but also for pedestrians. Coun. Archie Mellan, who was on the previous council when the project was initially proposed, said he was hesitant with only one bid, but agreed with Gardner that putting it off could lead to a bigger price tag in the future.

The project was originally tendered in December 2020 with four bids received, all well over the projected budget. In response, the project was scaled back in scope and tendered again in May 2021. Only one contractor, Coco Paving Inc., submitted a bid this time, which was over budget.

“The counties are good with it. They’re ready to run with it. I think it’d be short sighted on our part if we were to be not on board since its right through the heart of our largest village,” Mellan said. “I’d say we might as well go ahead with it. I’m not getting any younger and if we run this thing around, I might never see a roundabout in Morrisburg.

Geraghty said that after applying the township’s 2021 budgeted amount ($250,000), applying the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) funding ($413,000), deleting some provisional items ($31,800), and transferring $30,000 from the Economic Development Reserve, South Dundas has a project shortfall of $101,861.80. Staff recommended taking this from the Working Reserve and budgeting to repay the reserve in 2022. Geraghty noted that roughly 40 per cent of the shortfall includes the contingency amount, which may not be needed

“I do believe that [Coco Paving Inc.] truly want to do a good project in South Dundas and the village of Morrisburg, so I’m going to trust their judgement,” Byvelds said, noting that the company, formerly Cruickshank Construction, still employs many South Dundas residents. “I believe it will be a legacy not only to this council but to the council previous that started it. This is certainly a project that is big, and it certainly changes things in Morrisburg. I do believe it will be for the better in the long term.”

If South Dundas council had chosen to pull the plug on the project, this would have meant the deletion of some or all planned sidewalks, crosswalks, multi-use paths, decorative light standards, receptacles, and some landscaping elements.