Serving Dorchester, Belmont, Thorndale, Thamesford, Putnam, Crampton, Avon, Harrietsville-Mossley and surrounding area
Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
FAIR FUN: Hockey players from the Dorchester Dragons Atom BB and Dorchester Dolphins teams take a break from collecting food for the Dorchester Food Bank and handing out candy during Saturday's parade.

Municipality getting

ready for winter

by Wendy Spence

        Thames Centre is preparing for the next season, which some are predicting will be cold and snowy. At last week's council meeting, the municipality took care of a few matters related to winter maintenance.
        Director of transportation Mike LeBlanc gave a report on the new full-time equipment operator position the municipality is adding. He said the "crossover" role is unique. The new staff member will be responsible for road maintenance in the winter and community services work in the summer. Mayor Alison Warwick commented that this offers continuity and the municipality doesn't have to retrain someone. “To me it makes a lot of sense.”
        During budget deliberations, council approved a new operations co-ordinator position for the transportation department. The individual was intended to provide technical direction in areas such as tenders, traffic counts, etc. for the municipality. Both the operations co-ordinator and the seasonal equipment operator positions were advertised and four applications were received for each. After reviewing them, staff discussed the options that would best support the municipality moving forward. Since winter maintenance was deemed to be a priority, it was suggested that a better approach would be to hire a full-time equipment operator to help allow staff to evaluate the winter maintenance sidewalk control program and help in recommending potential future staffing and equipment needs. By hiring a full-time equipment operator, LeBlanc's report said that the winter maintenance for sidewalks can be addressed and schedules for all other winter maintenance can be maintained. From a cost perspective, this plan is supposed to save the municipality money moving forward.
        During the 2019 budget process, council approved a change in sidewalk winter maintenance for Dorchester. The municipality will be renting a sidewalk snowplow and taking care of the sidewalk winter maintenance in-house. Two temporary winter maintenance staffers will help out the current operations staff. Thames Centre will evaluate afterwards to determine if the staff will do the work for the whole municipality in the future.
        The sidewalk and facility maintenance contract for Thorndale has been extended to Arbourdale Meadows for the upcoming winter season. For the past six years, they have been the only contractor to submit a bid. There is no increase from last year. They receive a daily stand-by rate between November 15 and April 15 for having their equipment available for the municipality. The municipal staff has been satisfied with their past performance doing winter sidewalk maintenance.
        The municipality entered five-year winter maintenance agreements with both London and Zorra Township as they have in the past to share duties for roads that cross the municipal borders. The snowplow and salt routes incorporate the streets mentioned in the agreement. "I think we do a really good job with our roads," said Warwick.
        All costs for winter maintenance are covered in the municipal operating budget.

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