ASSIGINACK – Sucker Lake road resident Jason Moffatt is pleased that Assiginack council has heeded his ask for year-round maintenance on the portion of Sucker Lake Road that extends to the lake itself following years of personal winter road maintenance and an uptick in recreational interest in the lake.
Council debated Mr. Moffatt’s request at the January 12 meeting of council. Assiginack CAO Alton Hobbs said that a traffic study would typically be initiated first to see if year-round maintenance of a road is warranted. (Traffic studies occur every five years.)
Councillor Christianna Jones raised Mr. Moffatt’s concern, explaining that he has been maintaining the road himself for years, but as more and more people are choosing to access Sucker Lake, he was hoping council would add the road to its list for winter maintenance, as well as maintaining the waterfront parking lot area so that vehicles do not congest the roadway.
Mr. Moffatt told The Expositor he has lived year-round at the lake since 1996. At first, he said he would leave his vehicle on the plowed portion of roadway and either snowshoe or snowmobile in, but he eventually purchased a tractor to plow the road. Over the years the lake access has been gaining more and more popularity, Mr. Moffatt shared, by ice fishermen, other recreational users and those accessing landlocked properties. This has been so much that at times, the number of vehicles located near the road’s end has blocked him entirely from leaving his laneway. He said he guesses the vehicle owners just assume that the road is being maintained by the municipality, not by him.
Mr. Hobbs reminded council that should they agree with the ask, it would be in contravention of current bylaws. “If we are maintaining it now, we would have to do it for the rest of the season. I think we should look at it, but it needs to be backed up by numbers because of other similar requests (for winter maintenance of seasonal roads).”
Councillor Rob Maguire asked if the road had ever been maintained in the winter months. “Not in the last 20 years,” the CAO replied.
“He’s maintaining a road that other people are benefitting from,” Councillor Jones said.
Councillor Hugh Moggy asked if it would be possible for public works to clear the parking lot once all other roads are plowed.
Mayor Dave Ham shared that he once plowed the road for Mr. Moffatt when the snow was too deep to do it alone. “It took me all of 15 minutes,” the mayor said, “peanuts. It would have taken me five minutes more to get to Sucker Lake. It’s a municipal road for goodness sakes! As far as I’m concerned, the road should be snowplowed. All it is is a few minutes.”
“It wouldn’t be a priority, but if we could go and clean out the parking lot then I don’t see why we wouldn’t,” Councillor Moggy added.
Councillor Maguire said he supported both Councillor Moggy and the mayor’s thoughts.
Roads superintendent Ron Cooper said that plowing the kilometre stretch of road “can always be done,” but encouraged council to stray from using the roads “not a priority” lest that happen. “If it’s on the list, it’s on the list” and becomes part of the winter maintenance routes, Mr. Cooper said.
The mayor agreed with Mr. Cooper, saying “All it is is 20 minutes—there’s nothing to it, and after all other activities have been carried out.”
The mayor called the question to have this lake portion of Sucker Lake road maintained for the remainder of the winter. The motion carried.
Mr. Moffatt said he was very grateful for council’s decision; “it will alleviate a lot of work for me.”