Residents of McGuire Beach Road want road plowed

By Kirk Winter

“We have been told that the road is not up to city standards." File photo.

Raymonde Blais-Couture has had enough — she wants her road plowed.

Blais-Couture has lived on McGuire Beach Road just outside Kirkfield since 1999. Since 2015, Blais-Couture, who is also the president of the 150-home McGuire Beach Property Owners Association Corp., has been lobbying both her councillor and council as a whole to get their very busy unassumed road plowed by the city as it was in the past.

Despite many rebuffs by city staff and three different councils, Blais-Couture says she has no plan to go away until the road again receives full winter service. Her property owners’ association remains prepared to pay for the service as they did pre-amalgamation when Carden Township cleared the road, and post-amalgamation when Kawartha Lakes provided service until 2017.

In a telephone interview with the Advocate, Blais-Couture said that there have been cottages along that stretch of road since the late 1950s. What was once a summertime community has now largely turned into a four-season sub-division with 600 cottage and full-time residents residing in the area. All but a few of the cottages along the 1.7-kilometre road are now inhabited year around.

“The only services that we get from the city are recycling/garbage pick up and two loads of gravel spread every spring by the city,” Blais-Couture said.

“We have always been willing to pay for winter services,” Blais-Couture said. “We have been told that the road is not up to city standards. We have been told to get another survey, and get another contractor to make a report. We have been told the road needs to be raised at the cost of more than a million dollars. The city has told me they will plow if the road is brought up to standard. The cottage association will never have that kind of money.”

“I personally pay almost $2,500 in property tax,” Blais-Couture said. “The McGuire Beach Property Owners Association pay well over a $250,000 a year in taxes and we don’t get winter services? The city plows the top half of the road that is paved and that is owned by the Trent Canal and the city. The plow then backs up and reverses out. It is dangerous. The school bus does the same thing. We built a turn around at the end of McGuire Beach Road so they wouldn’t have to do that.”

“Before 2017, when the city provided us winter service, it cost the association $2,500 to $3,500 for plowing and salt,” Blais-Couture said. “We are willing to pay that but I still ask the question if we are paying taxes why do we have to pay additional for plowing? That should be included.”

“Right now my husband is doing the plowing,” Blais-Couture said. “Association members pay a lot of taxes already. They don’t want to pay liability insurance and costs to get the road winter serviced. It is the city’s job to keep residents safe and plow all of McGuire Beach Road for emergency vehicles.”

When contacted for comment Bryan Robinson, director of public works, told the Advocate via email that unofficially there are 206 kilometres of unassumed roads and 128 kilometres of private roads scattered across the city.

“A private road is a local road that is not owned by the municipality,” Robinson said. “It may or may not be publicly accessible. An unassumed road (like McGuire Beach Road) is a publicly accessible road, owned by the municipality, that has not been assumed by the city in accordance to the Municipal Act. These roads usually do not meet minimum standards that the municipality considers acceptable…and the municipality absolves itself of liability in connection to unassumed roads.”

“The municipality does not have a legal obligation to maintain private roads or unassumed roads and does not have liability for either,” Robinson added.

Robinson was asked why both Carden Township and Kawartha Lakes provided winter service until 2017, but then the city decided to discontinue the fee-for-service plowing.

“The municipality is under no obligation to provide maintenance to private and unassumed roads. The municipality had ceased all fee-for-service activity by 2017. The municipality had been plowing the unassumed section of McGuire Beach Road on a fee-for-service basis. The association was notified in the fall of 2016 that council had decided to no longer provide fee-for-service activity. It was explained what was required for that section of McGuire Beach Road to be brought up to the minimum standard that the municipality would need it to be to be able to assume the road and provide year-round services. The association has not proceeded to invest in the road,” Robinson said.

“The municipality continued to plow the road for a fee until the winter of 2016/2017. Ultimately, council reconfirmed its decision not to perform winter service on the road in 2019,” Robinson said.

Safety is only one factor, though, he says. When the municipality assumes a road, it has to take on everything else related to its maintenance, too, like capital improvement, drainage, risk and liability. If the road isn’t up to snuff then the city is obligated to do it at the taxpayer’s expense.

Robinson was asked why some unassumed roads in the city seem to get winter services and some don’t, but he reiterated that the municipality is no longer offering fee-for-service maintenance activity on any road.

Blais-Couture told the Advocate they have contacted Ward One councillor Emmett Yeo about the concerns of the McGuire Beach Property Owners Association Corp. “But he seldom returns phone calls or emails or has time to attend cottage association meetings.”

“I have spoken to (former mayor Andy) Letham and (current mayor Doug) Elmslie,” Blais-Couture said, “and they are no better. There is no (municipal) politician who is prepared to stand up for people who live on unassumed and private roads.”

“Ward One should separate from the city,” Blais-Couture said. “We received much better services here before amalgamation. Our tax money should stay here in Carden. Nobody cares on council. When I spoke to council in February about McGuire Beach Road there were no questions from any of the councillors. At least the new ones should have been asking why this is the case. They weren’t listening to me…the ones closest to me were on Facebook or answering their email.”

In the immediate future, Blais-Couture would like to see the residents of all unassumed and private roads get together to form an association that will represent their interests to both council and the public works department. She hopes this will ensure their roads receive the same level of services that other taxpayers in Kawartha Lakes get.      

1 Comment

  1. Donna says:

    Raymonde Blais-Couture, very disappointed to hear you didn’t get anywhere with the city.

    Robinson says, “An unassumed road (like McGuire Beach Road) is a publicly accessible road, owned by the municipality, that has not been assumed by the city in accordance to the Municipal Act.” The CKL collects our taxes, for very little return. I voted for Doug Elmsie because of his campaign promises. I hope he will stand by these promises. $250,00 in municipal tax dollars for very little return. No garbage pick today…

    “Hi, I’m Doug Elmslie
    The overall theme of my campaign is “Enhancing the service levels in the City of Kawartha Lakes.”

    As a councillor, I often hear people express frustration when dealing with the municipality, including long wait times to get answers or actions on various issues or files. Misunderstandings with policies or procedures and not knowing the correct department or person to contact.

    If elected, I will work on removing those barriers and frustrations and making access to city services easier and more seamless.”

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