The Town of Tillsonburg is working with the County of Oxford to conduct an environmental assessment and needed reconstruction on a section of North Street in Tillsonburg.
At a recent council meeting, town officials and councillors heard a presentation by Rob Walton with the County of Oxford.
“In this area we’re planning on doing road improvements and we’re planning on servicing that area with sanitary sewers – both of those have components that you need to do an environmental assessment on,” said Rob Walton, director of public works with the County of Oxford. “There are issues around those projects that you need to consult with the public about.”
The section of North Street involved in the environmental assessment begins at the intersection of Broadway and continues to the east town limits. Walton noted that the environmental assessment will include outlining possible problems or issues, evaluating solutions, and conversing with members of the public to ensure that the proposed project is environmentally, socially and economically sound.
The majority of`that section of North street currently has no sanitary sewer system and part of the reconstruction will see the installation of sewers to service the residential houses already in existence.
Steve Lund, director of operations for the Town of Tillsonburg said several improvements and upgrades along North Street are overdue.
“The roadway needs to be reconstructed - the area needs sanitary sewers, water main and storm drainage improvements,” he said. “It goes back to over 50 years to when it was under the township of Dereham and so a lot of that area was built at that time to different standards that aren’t current so reconstruction of this roadway will bring the servicing and roadway up to current urban standards.
“It will provide adequate servicing for both existing and proposed development,” said Lund.
Walton said that the county and the town have held discussions over the past couple of years and are currently discussing an approximate timeline to complete the environmental assessment and reconstruction work.
“From a technical point of view there’s four specific breaks in this project as to what we’re calling phases, and we set it out as a potential four years and through our budgeting process we’ve agreed in the environmental assessment to hold it out there that we might do the four phases in three years,” explained Walton adding that the Town of Tillsonburg has requested the later timeframe.
Phase one is set to begin in 2014, with all four phases together totaling approximately $11 million dollars.
In addition to the sanitary sewer installations, road improvements and reconstruction work being done, pedestrian and traffic safety along that stretch of North Street has been another concern for many. Lund noted that a number of petitions have been presented over the years from existing residents along North Street regarding sidewalks.
“When the county goes in and does reconstruction, their practice has been to fund the sidewalks to 50 per cent and that’s something we’d like to see done on both sides for safety and for funding issues,” said Lund.
Walton said the area is also planned for future development with residential subdivisions expected to be built. “We’re planning for that through the process,” he added.
At a town council meeting on May 13, councilor Dave Beres was pleased to see the county committed to improving that part of Tillsonburg and noted the importance North Street will play in future years.
“As far as future development for residential, and I’m talking 20 or 30 years down the road, it’s going to go north and that area,” said Beres. “I’m very, very pleased with the projects.”
Walton noted at the council meeting, in response to a question from deputy mayor Mark Renault, that the work on North Street is a top priority for the County.
“This section of road is in rough shape – there’s no doubt about it. The road needs to be re-done and we need to do the upgrades that will allow the development to happen. We need to work with the town to do things like sidewalk improvements because sidewalks are part of the town’s responsibility and we will do them as part of this job,” said Walton.
“This is a project that’s going to open up that area for development and we’re trying to do the things that will start with this as the gateway to it and make it a good area.”
In addition to meetings and presentations at council, there have been two public information sessions held regarding the environmental assessment and work being done on North Street. Both public information sessions have been well attended and took place at the Tillsonburg Community Centre, the first held back in September 2011 and the most recent this past April 2013.
North Street is also known as County Road 20 – a road that both the town and county share responsibility for. There are several other such county roads, considered to be major links that run through Tillsonburg, linking one part of the county with another, North Street being one of them. Other county roads include Potter’s Road, Tillson Avenue and John Pound Road.