Pothole season has arrived
‘Up there with the worst streets that I’ve seen’
In the spring a young man’s fancy may turn to thoughts of love, but in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, most residents seem to turn their thoughts to potholes.
To illustrate the point, residents of Stanfield Street in the Ashby neighbourhood of Sydney had a petition tabled at last week’s CBRM council meeting on their behalf asking that the street be considered for repaving.
“This street is in deplorable condition,” said Dist. 6 Coun. Ray Paruch, who represents the area on council. “We’ve got to do something with this.”
He noted he surveyed the street prior to the petition coming to council and counted 22 houses on it, 21 of which had water cuts in front of them that had been patched, and also noted the street is without sidewalks.
“Something has to be done, I don’t know what can be done,” he said, describing Stanfield Street as being “up there with the worst streets that I’ve seen.”
Reaction from other members of council about the petition ranged from commending residents for acting to bring their concerns forward, to concerns it may open a deluge of similar petitions about other streets in disrepair, to apprehension that people they think their street can jump the “worst-first” queue.
Director of public works Wayne MacDonald said the CBRM has had challenges involving funding applications to other levels of government in support of its paving projects. He did note that Stanfield Street is on the municipality’s list of identified streets and described it as being, “fairly high up,” but conditional on funding.
“Certainly, we would want more money, more money helps when it comes to capital repairs across the CBRM,” he said.
Dist. 9 Coun. George MacDonald said there are many streets in his district he would like to see paved, but he’s been telling residents about the municipality’s worst-first policy.
“I’m not downgrading the importance of this street in Sydney but I’m just saying … when you start setting a precedent,” he said. “I’ve been patient and I just follow the list.
“I watch that list closer than I watch the hockey or ball scores.”
One street that many motorists have recently complained about is the section of Prince Street approaching Ashby corner in Sydney.
Dist. 10 Coun. Bruckschwaiger, who represents the area including Gardiner Mines and Dominion, said even he gets calls about the condition of Ashby corner. He noted that a petition is a way for residents to speak up on issues affecting them.
Bruckschwaiger said he expected the situation would start to improve a bit once asphalt plants get up and running.
“We’ve got all kinds of issues, but it’s all about money,” he said.
Dist. 2 Coun. Earlene MacMullin said there’s no indication the Stanfield Street residents were trying to supersede the municipality’s paving list.
“They have every right and reason to come together … if they want to get together as a community to express their distaste in something they have every right to do that and we as a council should completely respect what was done,” she said.
“Obviously if they think they have to go to a petition in the hopes that their road will get done first, then we as CBRM are not educating the public enough to understand why the road is not done.”
Mayor Cecil Clarke noted that when anyone provides a written petition to the council it is tabled for the record so it’s recognized that council received it. There is no action taken other than to refer it to the department responsible.
Another street Sydney residents have long called to be repaved is Ferry Street, in the north end. Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald noted it has been at the top of the list since he was first elected. However, in 2015 the CBRM was told provincial funding focus was on wastewater, and was directed to resubmit its road list in 2017.
“We don’t have a million dollars to do Ferry Street, it has to be cost-shared,” Eldon MacDonald said, adding that under the federal funding program, roads needed to reach the 10,000-vehicle movement threshold for eligibility.
“Some people don’t accept that fact, but that’s the reality of the policy of that program,” he said. “So we’re tearing up what would be seen to be by the public as in fairly good condition compared to others, yet we say doing worst first.”
He said that Ottawa has now changed the road count to 1,000. Dist. 1. Coun. Clarence Prince said it’s regrettable that residents feel the need to submit petitions, but noted it is a cash-strapped, job-starved community. He noted some roads are in such poor condition residents have suggested the asphalt be torn up and they be returned to dirt roads.
“How sad and how backward would that be if we ever considered that?” he s aid.
This image from Google Maps shows Stanfield Street in Sydney.