KENORA – Leaders Ledger – It’s early in the season, but already we have had our fair share of winter weather pass through our region. With it comes a slippery mess that makes traveling difficult, if not unsafe.
While there is no replacement for good driving habits, such as planning ahead to ensure that you have more than enough time to make it to your destination safely and driving slow when conditions warrant, the fact remains the Ministry of Transportation still has an obligation to ensure roads are safe and passable, and closed as infrequently as possible.
In recent years there has been a great deal of discussion about whether or not the province has been living up to that responsibility.
Some of that discussion has focused on the privatization of highway maintenance contracts, with many raising concerns that a profit-driven model has led to cost-cutting measures and thus a reduced focus on the quality of service being provided. Others have suggested that while private contractors are living up to the letter of their agreements with the province, the standards imposed do not guarantee the best quality of service and that self-policing complaint models cannot reliably address specific, known deficiencies.
While I am not willing to pass judgement without overwhelming compelling evidence, I will say that it is my firm belief that if a company is being paid, and is making a profit, to clear our roads and our highways that they should, at the very least, be held to the same standards we expected from government employees.
This is why I am once again asking members of the public to share their stories for the upcoming winter season.
If you experience poor road conditions I need to know what the conditions were like, where the problems were and when they were experienced. Additional information such as the time the weather began, the number of plows and safety vehicles encountered on the roadway and whether there was any evidence that some plowing, salting or sanding had taken place is also helpful.
Certainly, I am not faulting anyone for some ice, snow or slush on the road in the middle of a storm. That is reasonable to expect. It is poor road conditions hours, or days, after the snow has stopped, or stretches of highway where no snow removal efforts are evident that are my primary concern.
This has, by many accounts, been a relatively mild winter thus far. Yet, many are suggesting that the maintenance of the highways in our area has not been as it has in the past or maintained to the minimum standard. Some areas have been reported by many people as being completely neglected. In the north, our highways are our lifelines, and our safety and survival depends on them year-round.
As always, your first course of action should be to contact the contractor responsible for the specific stretch of highway, the Ministry of Transportation or the police. After you have returned safely, please contact my office at 1-800-465-8501 with your stories or send them by email to email@example.com. By working together we can help ensure our roads are safe, even in the winter.
Sarah Campbell MPP