Another bump in road
Carbonear council votes to grade controversial lane
For a road that still has no name, the short gravel lane that connects English Hill and Bunker Hill roads in the north section of Carbonear has a way of stirring up controversy.
The road came in for more debate during a council meeting July 20. At issue? Whether the town should grade the road, which it does not recognize as a municipal road.
Deputy mayor Ches Ash raised concerns about the possibility of “opening ourselves up for liability.”
Reminding council the road was to be used for emergency access during winter conditions only, the deputy mayor said, “ I don’t know if we even have the authority to grade it.”
Part of the nameless road lies within the road reservation for Columbus Drive, which is a part of Route 70 and comes under provincial jurisdiction.
The deputy mayor suggested the motion is contrary to a motion council passed earlier this year, “ when we said we did not consider it to be a town road.”
Ash said he would support a request to grade the road if the province was onside.
But in the end, the motion passed by a slim majority of four to three, with Ash and councillors Gladys Mercer and Ed Goff opposing. Mayor Sam Slade, who lives on Bunker Hill Road, and councillors David Kennedy, George Butt and Betty Forward voted in favour.
The road was graded the next day.
The road has been at the centre of debate for some time.
Last year, council turned down an application from Debra and Walter Bradbury to build a home in the area. Part of its decision was based on the fact council does not recognize the road.
Council’s denial of a building permit was also based on the fact the land is located in an unserviced area of town, and council couldn’t justify taxpayers having to pay for water and sewer infrastructure.
Earlier this year, council erected a sign at the east end of the road, advising motorists that it was not for public use, but for emergencies only.
Mayor Slade argued that if the road was for emergencies, it has to be in “decent shape.”
Slade also pointed out Line Road, Fox Farm Road and Gunner’s Pond Road are graded once a year. He argued the same should be done for the nameless road.
But Ash shot back, pointing out that the others named by the mayor “are public roads.”
He added that the provincial government has authorized snowclearing on the road for emergencies only, but not grading.
“ By grading it now we open ourselves up to the possibility of liability,” Ash stated.
Snow hits fan
Residents of Bunker Hill have lobbied hard to have the nameless road maintained, and circulated a petition late last year when council decided to discontinue snowclearing. They also turned out in large numbers at a council meeting to voice their displeasure.
Council reversed its decision in January, but clearly stated at the time it was not recognizing it as a public road, and that “use by the general public is not permitted.”
The earlier motion to cease snowclearing had been based partly on advice from the town’s legal counsel, which had expressed concerns about liability should the town continue to maintain the road.
The Department of Transportation also had some safety concerns because of the close proximity of the road to Route 70.
At issue is the ability of emergency vehicles to ascend Bunker Hill during winter storms. But the nameless road also offers convenient access to Route 70 for residents of Bunker Hill Road. Mayor Slade lives at the top of Bunker Hill Road.
Provincial officials authorized the town to clear snow from the road last winter as a “short-term solution” because of concerns over emergency access.
Bill Bowman The Compass
This sign at the east end of the nameless service road, which connects English Hill with Bunker Hill, says it all.