QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett took the Minister of Transportation to task over the mishandling of the repair and re-construction of Highway 6 between Caledonia and Hagersville during Question Period at Queen’s Park.
Barrett spoke of the many calls and e-mails received on a daily basis from drivers concerned about the dangerous condition of the highway. He also questioned why archeological findings delayed construction for two years.
“I’ve been contacting your office for close to a year,” Barrett said during Question Period. “Why now have band-aid repairs only started when we’re at a crisis? Why the lack of action? Secondly, why the secrecy around your contingency plans?”
The Minister of Transportation dodged the question, not providing answers but citing details on the results of the archeological assessment. During the two-year period, 1,669 artifacts were located as well as a foundation from an 1860s home.
Barrett continued his barrage, telling the minister of the warning signs on the highway and invited her to come down and drive this section of Highway 6. He raised concerns about the financial solvency of Carillion Canada and the continuation of the patching.
“Minister, I ask you: Can you assure me that this safety hazard will be fixed immediately,” Barrett said. “And can you assure all the drivers who are experiencing vehicle damage caused by these craters that they will be compensated?”
The minister assured modifications were made to the original plans to accommodate the archeological findings and construction would start in late April or early May, before launching a partisan barrage.
“It’s disappointing the Minister of Transportation evaded my questions but found time to criticize hypothetical budget numbers put forward in the leadership race,” Barrett said. “This province has been suffering from the partisanship governing of this party for too long.”
ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018
Mr. Toby Barrett: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. For months now, my office has been inundated with calls about potholes on provincial Highway 6, south of Caledonia. Your office has assured me the contractor is patching the holes, but the asphalt is not sticking.
Why have archaeological findings delayed this highway reconstruction for two years? It is a hazard to safety. I’ve been contacting your office for close to a year. Why now have band-aid repairs only started when we’re at a crisis? Why the lack of action?
Secondly, why the secrecy around your contingency plans?
Hon. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. Our government is committed to maintaining among the safest roads in North America, something that I am very proud of. We know that there are issues on our highways due to our climate in the wintertime and we do continue to repair things.
I know also that Highway 6 is a critical connection to this community and that the residents want to see progress. The archaeological assessment for Highway 6 from Hagersville to Caledonia identified six archaeological sites of varying importance. One of the sites is a 19th century Euro-Canadian site with an indigenous component. The assessment recovered 1,669 items as well as a possible house foundation for a structure built in the 1860s, so this site was identified as needing further assessment if any impacts from construction were planned outside the existing road platform. It’s an important stage process; we need to inspect work. However, I do understand what matters now is that we do have a path forward.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.
Mr. Toby Barrett: These potholes on this 80-kilometre provincial highway are so bad that there are large lit-up warning signs at each end. I ask you to come down and drive on this atrocity.
Minister, I’m told the contractor, Carillion Canada, has filed for creditor protection. This is clearly another example of botched government oversight and mismanagement.
Minister, I ask you: Can you assure me that this safety hazard will be fixed immediately? And can you assure all the drivers who are experiencing vehicle damage caused by these craters that they will be compensated?
Hon. Kathryn McGarry: I know that we will continue on our path forward on Highway 6 improvements. MTO made modifications to the design of the project to limit the work in the area with these finds that I just mentioned to the existing road platform. Again, it’s our commitment to ensure that the travelling public has safe roads to travel on. We will be looking at resurfacing construction in late April or early May of this year.