Raising ‘the P word’ for Old Smith Highway

“Maybe too rich, but on the radar”

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The last month or two has been rough for those responsible for road maintenance in the M.D., if the remarks and demeanour of transportation director Bill Klassen are anything to go by. I had one guy ready to quit on the weekend, he told M.D. councillors at their Aug. 23 meeting. Overtime is already up to what was done in all of 2016, four graders are going at any given time on the Old Smith Highway, and the calls keep pouring in.
“We’re maxed out (doing regular maintenance), and I’m out chasing squirrels (responding to complaints),” Klassen told council. It’s (the Old Smith Highway) taking 20 per cent of our resources.”
And it’s not as if the heavy haulers aren’t pitching in. Klassen said he’d heard from one company that’s spent several tens of thousands this summer on grading. It’s not enough.
“This is a council matter,” Klassen said. “What do you want to do with it?”
CAO Allan Winarski put it in black and white.
“Maybe it’s time to start thinking about the ‘P’ word out there,” he said, meaning paving. “It may be too rich, but it’s on the radar for discussion.”
Klassen continued on the toll the road is taking on his staff.
“This weekend, for the first time, our people said: ‘We’re tired. We’re not working this weekend.’”
Councillor Robert Esau acknowledged that the wetness of the summer was a big factor, and congratulated Klassen and his team for keeping roads as passable as possible.
“We’ve had days of bad roads, but you could always get through,” he said, referring to roads in the Flatbush area.
“Thank Marvin (Schneider) for that,” said Klassen.
“Road work is like farming,” said councillor Darren Fulmore. “It was pretty hard to make hay in July.”
“The worst part of this year is over,” observed councillor Brad Pearson.
Councillor Darren Fulmore said it might be a good idea to provide more incentive for the heavy haulers to do more of their work in winter. For example, if they destroy parts of the road they could be expected to rebuild the sub-grade.
“The provincial and federal governments should be stepping up and giving us money so we can fix that road,” said councillor Garry Horton.
Getting back to the paving idea for the OSH, Esau said, “It may become a viable answer. We might not have to carry it by ourselves.”



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