At their most recent meeting, Ashcroft council voted to enter a Village float in this year’s Sanata Parade. Photo: Barbara Roden

Ashcroft council receives winter road maintenance update

Council also votes to enter a float in this year’s Santa Parade

By Raven Nyman

The Village of Ashcroft held a regular meeting of council on Tuesday, Nov. 12 beginning at 4:30 p.m. in council chambers with five members of the public in the audience, excluding the press.

All members of council were present, as Coun. Tuohey arrived approximately four minutes after Tuesday’s meeting got started.

Once again, the HUB Online Network was on-site to record the meeting for public access via the HUB Online Network Facebook page and YouTube channel. Meeting agendas and minutes are always accessible via the Village website (

After adoption of the minutes from the regular meeting of council and Committee of the Whole held on Monday, Oct. 28, council proceeded with the evening’s agenda, which included no official delegations, and just two items of correspondence.

However, David Rhodes, Quality Manager of Dawson Road Maintenance—formerly Interior Roads—was on site for a presentation, despite a small scheduling miscommunication that left him out of the official agenda.

Rhodes offered council and the gallery a detailed summary of recent changes at Dawson Road Maintenance:

“Over the last year-and-a-half to two years, the ministry has put all of the service areas out for bid. Interior Roads, or Dawson Group—our maintenance division is now Dawson Road Maintenance—was successful with four service areas. With that contract renewal comes a couple of new things and you won’t notice so much in the summer maintenance, but there are some new guidelines and new standards for winter maintenance.”

Part of the change has been corporate growth, he noted, specifically significant management change.

“We have a board of directors now,” said Rhodes, adding that the company has doubled in size in the past six months.

“It’s a huge undertaking and there’s bound to be some ripples along the way, but as we roll into the winter, one of the things you need to be aware of is that in the new specifications there’s a requirement to do salt brining as a pre-application rolling into severe winter storms.”

As a result of those changing requirements, Dawson Road Maintenance is outfitting its yards for brine mixing.

“The trucks will look like a water truck going down the road and they’ll spray a little line of brine,” he explained. “The idea of the brine is it prevents compact snow from actually bonding to the surface.”

That’s the first major change that Dawson is employing, but there is also a requirement in the new contract to provide better notifications of storm events and road closures to council and stakeholder groups.

“Hopefully you will see some better communication from us in advance of things going on. Additionally, we will be pre-positioning equipment,” he said, referencing preparation for storm events.

He added that sand size for highways has also changed, with hopes of reducing windshield damage.

“There is a requirement to begin salting when the surface temperature of the road is at -9 or warmer. If its -9, the contractor has 24 hours to have that process in place. The older standard was -6.”

The other part of the main contract change is a requirement to have social media interaction, he added, noting that the company already uses social media.

Rhodes mans the social media for his area and says the best way to get the most up to date information from Dawson Road Maintenance is still by calling in or using the website at

Proceeding with the evening’s agenda, council addressed two items of correspondence, both received and filed. The first item was a letter from the Ashcroft and District Lions Club expressing the group’s support for the construction of a multipurpose pathway along Evans Road, as proposed by resident Jim Duncan during past council meetings.

With no unfinished business, council moved on to address new business. They reviewed two Development Variance Permit applications, voting all in favour to approve both DVP 19-03 and DVP 19-04.

Moving on to staff reports, council responded to the UBCM Fire Department training grant application in the amount of $25,000, ultimately voting to approve the application through the Village.

Council went on to receive the museum’s year-end report, noting a record year for the site.

Next, council voted to approve the Dec. 6 closure of Railway Ave. for Ashcroft’s annual Santa Parade. Coun. Jonah Anstett moved to support this and two additional motions for the event, which council voted all in favour of.

Council agreed to approve an “Ashcroft Bucks” expenditure to be compensated by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) Love Program funding. Lastly, the group agreed to try to put a float in this year’s parade.

“The village has not traditionally entered a float so I think it would be fun to enter and see how it goes,” said Mayor Barbara Roden.

Next, Coun. Marilyn Anderson put forth a motion that staff submit a Grant Writing Support Program application to NDIT for 2020 before year’s end, which was successfully passed.

“It’s been a really valuable program and it would be a shame to see that not move forward again for 2020,” said Anderson. “I’m very happy to see this going in.”

Proceeding with council reports, Mayor Roden recalled a recent TNRD board meeting and Committee of the Whole meeting during which she witnessed a presentation on agriculture in our region, where she learned some interesting facts worthy of sharing.

“One of the fun stats I learned was that on the salsa weekend at Desert Hills they sell 50,000 pounds of tomatoes.”

Because of the contract they have with Loblaws, Roden said that if someone in Thunder Bay is eating a cantaloupe in the summer months and they’ve bought it at Loblaws, they are likely eating a cantaloupe from Desert Hills, Ashcroft.

After a short meeting, gallery regular Gloria Mertens began the evening’s question period at 5 p.m. with no other members of the public left present.

First, Mertens inquired about follow-up on items from the last council meeting and Committee of the Whole. Council clarified that those items will make their way onto the agenda and will be dealt with by council at a future date.

Mertens asked about the potential for a master trails plan and inquired as to the details of such a plan, but Mayor Roden said that she plans to speak with Clinton’s Mayor Susan Swan to find out more about exactly what a master plan can and will entail, since Clinton’s is already established.

Mertens also inquired about the two Development Variance Permit (DVPs) applications approved that evening, stating that there is usually a public meeting required for zoning changes. She asked if such a requirement is necessary for DVPs. CAO Anne Yanciw answered that DVPs do not have a public consultation requirement.

Mertens also asked about the evening’s decision around council potentially putting a float in this year’s Santa Parade: “Will it be delegated staff time or volunteer staff time?”

Roden responded that council had not yet had a chance to discuss this. “It might not work out. I believe it’s the will of staff and council that we have something, but what exactly that something will be remains to be seen.”

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