An­other bump in road

Car­bon­ear coun­cil votes to grade con­tro­ver­sial lane

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BILL BOW­MAN

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.

Per­mit de­nied

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.

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