Purvis Brothers owner raises his concerns over highway conditions

WESTERN MANITOULIN—The owner of a business which has the second highest number of employees on Western Manitoulin says that due to the road conditions west of Gore Bay, a shipping company that in the past has normally picked up fish to take to southern Ontario will not venture to Burnt Island; instead Purvis Brothers Limited has to ship its fish for market to Little Current before it is transferred down south.

“Five years ago ERB Transport stopped coming up to Burnt Island (where Purvis Brothers Fisheries Limited is located),” stated George Purvis last week. “They point out there are no ditches from Indian Point Road to Campbell Road and that it is at times hard to stay on the road. They are afraid to travel west of Gore Bay on the roads because drivers will lose the chance to get safe driving awards.”

“I’m sick and tired of being bounced up and down the roads,” said Mr. Purvis. He explained the company ships fish on skids (in trucks) but at the two culverts in Evansville even driving 20 kilometres per hour the skids go up in the air off the deck of the trucks.

“The road bed from Indian Point West is heaved and tar and chip doesn’t solve this program, it only masks the situation,” said Mr. Purvis. “The government should have long range plans to repair the road bed. The dust created makes it look like Beijing, China. Alternative gravel should be used that provides less dust and is easier on tires.”

While Western Manitoulin residents are very upset with road conditions on Highway 540, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) says that the highway is operating safely. Local resident have raised concerns with the large amount of dust created on the road when it is dry and vehicles are travelling on the highway, as well as loose stones causing driving to be treacherous, with blown tires and windshields being damaged.

“The highway is operating safely,” said Gordan Rennie, regional issues and media advisor with the MTO northeastern region, in an email to the Recorder recently. “However, we appreciate the feedback about the recent project.”

Mr. Rennie explained, “this section of Highway 540 (west of Indian Point Bridge) is referred to as a surface treated highway, which is a common surface for lower volume provincial highways. The recent work involved a single surface treatment application, which includes a new layer of gravel and emulsion, which is then rolled to provide a hard surface.”

“Surface treatment will initially appear rough and sound loud when travelling in a vehicle, but will become quieter and smoother as the material wears,” said Mr. Rennie. “Dust is also normal when the surface treatment is done, but dissipates after a couple of weeks. It generally takes a few weeks for surface treatment to cure and for float (loose stones) to be removed.”

“The existing surface treatment had some areas with potholes, but they were filled with cold mix pavement prior to the single surface treatment being placed,” continued Mr. Rennie. “MTO is monitoring the highway and will ensure that any potholes are addressed quickly. As well, there is a two year warranty on the work by our contractor.”

“In 30 years no money has been spent on road beds and there is only one way to get to Western Manitoulin,” said Mr. Purvis. “Perhaps the LaCloche pavement experiment, cement asphalt and special sand, should be looked at.”

“I had hoped some day the MTO would actually pave the highway, it hasn’t been done in 30 years,” said Mr. Purvis. “The last time Gore Bay to Meldrum Bay was done, John Lane was our MPP and fill was put in before two layers of surfacing was put on the road. They need to break up the tar and chip and put in washed gravel. Burpee-Mills township roads are good and they have washed gravel,” he said. “Our own roads are good they have washed gravel,” said Mr. Purvis.

“The province gets enough in gas taxes they should pave every road in the province, but most of this funding goes toward other things like education. Once in a while it should go towards the roads,” added Mr. Purvis.

Tom Sasvari