Mayor slams province over road snow report

Special to The Journal

Lambton County wants answers following a damning report from Ontario’s auditor general about winter road maintenance.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s recent report revealed the province saved about $35 million by contracting out highway maintenance. But the roads took longer to clear – twice as long in some cases – and fatal vehicle accidents increased over the the same period.

In some cases, Lysyk says, the contractors hired lacked the necessary equipment and there was very little government oversight to ensure the job was done correctly.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told county councillors the reduction of winter maintenance on Hwy 402 was done deliberately and the province should be held accountable.

“I think you can equate it to Walkerton in that the government takes an action that (is) not reported, that causes serious injuries and death to people, and then hides the facts, saying they are working on changes,” Bradley said.

More than 2,000 people became ill and seven people died in Walkerton, Ont. from EColi found in the town’s water system in May of 2000.

Bradley and county councillors asked staff to determine if Ontario’s ombudsman can look into the issue.

“There have been legal impacts. There have been human impacts” Bradley said. “This is beyond making a mistake. This was planned. The government deliberately set out in this direction.”

In one recent incident, five local firefighters were injured in March of 2014 in a multi-car collision on Hwy 402 in Plympton-Wyoming, in what some said were icy road conditions.

– Heather Wright, Petrolia Independent