Editorial: Clearing up concern

There is no denying that Canada is a northern country. Canadians expect snow and ice: we prepare for them with snow tires, bags of salt, shovels and more. In addition we pay taxes to the municipal and provincial governments whose job it is, in part, to clear and maintain our roads.

That said, we have seen a decline in the level of road service regionally, and the consistency with which that service is delivered.

Recent accidents along Highway 401 have communities lobbying the province to widen that highway to six lanes. This goes against the Ministry of Transportation’s own projections and standards for road widening.

Meanwhile, the ever-changing snow and freezing rain storms have prompted several school transportation cancellations. This winter season we have had seven in SDG. There have been three major closures of Highway 401. In one storm even a detour was closed due to another accident. Snow happens. Why do transportation departments seem less able to cope now than in the past?

This is not just an SDG issue: 400-series highways everywhere are experiencing issues. However the local picture presents some inconsistencies. Drive west into Leeds-Grenville. There is a dramatic change, going from snow-covered, unseen roads to bare pavement. Travel north of Winchester, still in SDG, and find a plowed road, where none existed south of Winchester. Inconsistency between different counties is one thing: however there should be the same level of service within the same county.

There are a few solutions which may work to solve this issue. Drivers need to slow down and be more cautious. This is always a good thing to do, but it only helps so much.

A better solution would be for government at all levels to do a better job clearing the roads. That sounds like a simplistic answer, but it may also be the best one. No one blames plow drivers who are out there in bad weather, clearing the way for others to use the roads. They do a much appreciated job. We just want to see more of them. That solution comes down to bureaucrats and budgets.

Yes, increased service comes at a cost. However road clearing is an essential service. At present, the level of service absolutely required is just not there.