‘Enough is enough, Northern roads need better winter maintenance,’ says Mantha

TORONTO—“Enough is enough,” says Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, who along with Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof both loudly voiced their positions last week in the Legislature that Northern Ontario roads need to be better maintained in the winter.

“We are both trying to get the message out to the government that the Ontario winter road maintenance program is not meeting the needs of Northern Ontario and its residents,” Mr. Mantha told the Recorder on Friday of last week.

Mr. Mantha rose in the Ontario Legislature on December 12 to highlight the poor quality of winter road maintenance in Northern Ontario as he read a number of recent news headlines from the region, all of which were in relation to fatal highway collisions.

“It just isn’t working,” Mr. Mantha said of the winter road maintenance program. “Highway 101, 144, 17, 129 are all under winter road maintenance concerns. And just this morning in McKerrow, another death. Enough is enough,” stated Mr. Mantha.

Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof called for improved highway maintenance in the aftermath of a fatal collision on Highway 11 near Temagami earlier this month. He explained two transports collided on the Pan Lake Corner. He was quoted in the North Bay Nugget December 13, 2017 edition as saying, “what makes this even more tragic is on November 24 of last year, on exactly the same corner, another person in a transport lost their life. What makes this even more tragic is on December 12, 2012, again in the same place, another life was lost. Each time the highway is closed, people in Northern Ontario are cut-off because there is no detour. People are starting to be very afraid to drive on the Trans-Canada.”

The Nugget reported that according to the most recent statistics provided in the 2014 Ontario Road Safety Report, the occupants of a vehicle registered in Timiskaming are four times more likely to die on a provincial highway than occupants of vehicles registered anywhere else in Ontario.

“We have to continue to put forward the message that highway road conditions in the north make them unsafe,” said Mr. Mantha. “And it isn’t like people in the North have other transportation options, they have to drive kids to arenas, to work, medical appointments, school and other activities and we don’t have the luxury of other transportation methods as the south does. We have to use our vehicles in the north. We need to look at how our roads can be safer, the cycle time of properly clearing snow and ice has to be improved, as do the resources and equipment needed expanded on.”

“People in the north take all precautionary steps, staying at home when they can in bad weather, slowing down their speeds while driving, and having winter tires on their vehicles,” said Mr. Mantha. “The government needs to take the steps necessary to provide safe roads so that people in the North can get where they need to safely.”