Cornwall Avenue North residents request consideration for aging street and ditches

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

A delegation of concerned citizens made the trek to the Fort Frances Civic Centre this week to state their case for improvements to their part of town.

A number of residents of Cornwall Avenue North were at the meeting of Fort Frances Town Council on Monday night to submit a petition and supporting arguments in favour of allocating a portion of next year’s town budget to improving the road and gutter conditions along their street. A petition of 35 names was submitted ahead of the meeting, and included with the petition was a collection of photos highlighting what the residents called “deplorable” road and ditch conditions.

The first portion of Monday night’s meeting was dedicated to public input on the 2023 municipal budget and Gary Vittie, one resident of Cornwall Avenue North who had signed his name to the petition, spoke to council about the request being made, on behalf of the residents who had signed. Vittie noted that in the time he’s spent living on Cornwall Avenue North, he has seen minimal upkeep done on the road – most of which he said was ditch work – which has been growing to be more of a problem as years go by and more people move and build along the street.

“As you can see, members of Cornwall are here, as well as some of the senior people who have lived at Cornwall for longer than I have, and I’ve been there almost 44 years,” he began.

“There are 28 houses up there, 27 driveways on the street that would be affected. Years ago I was told… that Cornwall would not be considered for curb and gutter until all the lots were sold. All of the lots have been sold for several years now. All of the houses have been built, in fact there are houses ranging in age from probably seventy years old to two or three years old right now.”

In the document submitted to council, photographs show instances of standing water along the Cornwall Avenue ditches, which have been attributed to uneven culvert placement or a complete lack of drainage, as well as what the petitioners describe as a street surface that is “patches on patches on patches” and still includes many potholes.

Vittie noted that there are other bits of evidence from the distant and more recent past that would suggest to him that work is overdue in the area.

“The 900 block of Cornwall… it’s been in my opinion 30 years it was curb and guttered,” Vittie said.

“The 900 block has 10 houses on it, of which nine are occupied and one has been vacant for years, and there’s quite a bit of discrepancy there. It was done at the time Sixth Street curb and gutter was extended to York. If you look at the fire hydrant that is on the corner of the lot between 1032 and 1036 Cornwall, it has a stamp on it from 1950. I believe that a 1950 fire hydrant, that’s probably from when sewer and water were put in to that area. On the casing around the hydrant now, the town has put a big ‘R’ on it, and I’m assuming that means ‘to be replaced.’ If it’s going to be replaced, let’s look at doing the whole project.”

Vittie said that he sees an opportunity for the town to do the work in the near future, particularly as the proposal for a energy storage facility has been approved for the former Resolute lagoon property located directly north on Cornwall Avenue. If the facility needs services run to it, Vittie said he would assume they would come off of Cornwall and thus make replacing the whole stretch in one go much more feasible. He said the extra load of water and sewer going to and from the new facility would put additional strain on aging infrastructure. He also said residents are worried about the increased traffic that they have recently seen in the area.

“Traffic has never been heavier on Cornwall than it is now,” Vittie said.

“Much of the traffic is coming down Fifth Street to Cornwall, turning up and going to the new development of the new housing unit on Eighth Street, but they’re also going down from Eighth to the youth centre on Eighth and down to Rainycrest.”

Vittie said he is aware of a feasibility study that was done in 2019 on upgrading Cornwall, and suggested council may be able to refer back to whatever results stemmed from it for consideration going forward. Vittie also said the town should see fixing up the road as an investment for the good of its own equipment.

“What we’re asking for is the consideration of council,” Vittie said.

“The road itself is a hogback. I believe it was last year a grader came down the road, we don’t see a grader very often… the grader hit the manhole cover and split the collar, and the town had to spend several days repairing the collar. That’s the way our road is; the manhole covers are up, the road dips, the truck and snowplow can ride over that but if the grader operator doesn’t know its there, he’s in trouble.”

Vittie and the residents of Cornwall Avenue were not the only ones to submit requests to council regarding changes or inclusions to the next budget. A letter from the “Make a Big Splash” Spray Park committee was received by council, wherein the group is asking the town for a $75,000 commitment towards building the spray park in 2023. The letter cites potential economic development, increased tourism and a more vibrant community as incentives for including the expenditure in the next budget. Meanwhile, resident Betty Williams also submitted a letter requesting the town consider the addition of a sidewalk along King’s Highway from First Street West to Webster Avenue, connecting the two existing sidewalks and giving pedestrians a safe and dedicated space in front of the Husky gas station. Williams wrote in her letter than as the current path is used by pedestrians already, many of them school children, she is concerned for their safety, as well as accessibility for those who may require assistive devices. Neither Williams nor a representative from the “Make a Splash” Spray Park committee were on hand to speak to their requests to council.

Councillor Wendy Brunetta accepted all three items and council agreed to move them along to the town’s Budget Committee for further consideration.

The 2023 Budget is expected in spring of the new year.