Ontario’s opposition is once again trying to improve maintenance standards and make winter driving safer on Highway 17.
Guy Bourgouin, New Democrat MPP for Mushkegowuk-James Bay has reintroduced a private member’s bill on the issue at Queen’s Park.
“This is the second time that I have put this bill in front of the government, the last time they voted it down,” he says.
Bourgouin says it’s not a partisan bill.
“It’s to save lives and help the economy of northern Ontario,” he says.
Bourgouin also says right now the province is spending billions “on a highway in southern Ontario that nobody wants” when they could be addressing safety in the north.
“Take that money and invest it in highways 11 and 17 to make it safer, we’re not second-class citizens. We deserve highways that are safe, for our families to feel safe. Right now people are driving Highways 11 and 17 and they’re scared,” he says.
Mark Andrews, former OPP North East Region Traffic and Marine Unit Commander says provincial government after provincial government has yet to address the issue. Andrews says he’s been talking about this issue since at least 2007.
“I have worked for all of them and this is not a new issue,” he says. “This is the same issue. We just need the current government to get behind this non-partisan bill and save lives. It’s that simple.”
Andrews says in the winter trucks don’t go along Highway 17 because of the hills and Lake Superior.
“All of the traffic that is split up in the summertime all comes to Highway 11. And then you have people trying to pass and they hit a slushy shoulder and they lose control, or you have transport trucks that do the same thing, or they get caught on a hill,” he says.
Bourgouin’s bill would make it the law that the province must clear the roads within eight hours of a snowfall.
The bill will be up for second reading and debate in February.
With files from Richard Coffin