Northern MPP reintroduces bill for safer winter highways

Mushkegowuk-James Bay NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin reintroduced his private member’s bill Tuesday morning at Queen’s Park to improve maintenance standards for safer winter driving on highways 11 and 17.

The bill would make it the law that the province must clear the roads within eight hours of a snowfall.

It would classify northern highways the same as all 400 series highways that have the strictest snow removal requirements.

“Northerners have been waiting long enough. Premier Doug Ford should have acted on my bill two years ago to clear our highways during the winter and make it safer for northern families.  Ford’s refusal to act means northern drivers keep risking their lives on poorly maintained routes in the winter,” said Bourgouin.

“With this bill, we can prevent highway tragedies in northern Ontario by making our highways safer. Northern drivers and their families deserve nothing less than to know that their roads are safe during our long winter months.”

Bourgouin was joined at the online news conference by representatives from northern communities and businesses who are calling for safer, cleaner highways to reduce winter closures, said an Ontario NDP release.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s snow removal classification standards depend on the type of highway and traffic volumes, not on climate or vehicle size and weight. Bourgouin’s bill would bump up highways 11 and 17 to Class 1 in all of their sections, whether two or four-lane, and eliminate vehicular traffic specification.

“Northern highways are no longer safe and road closures occur more often than before.  Commercial traffic has drastically increased on the Highway 11 corridor and our road infrastructure and maintenance need to be adapted to better serve all northern communities and businesses,“ said Mario Villeneuve, vice-president of Villeneuve Construction.