Peter L. Smith
Peter L. Smith
RAPIDES-DES-JOACHIMS – Concerns have been raised regarding who is responsible for road repairs along Rapides-des-Joachims Road after a culvert washed out at kilometre 95, making it impassable. The road is used by the Pinguoin Snowmobile Club, in the winter, and leads to Ten Mile Lodge. The washout occurred in January and was caused by the alternating mild and cold temperatures. The Pinguoin Club made quick, temporary repairs by filling it with snow, but permanent repairs will be needed in the spring. The Ministry of Natural Resources will be involved in fixing the road.
Richard Lauzon, owner of Ten Mile Lodge, said the washout was, at least in part, due to a lack of money spent by the MRC Pontiac to repair the road. “Since 1998, I have been the only person maintaining this road,” stressed Lauzon, claiming he pays $770 a year in road taxes to the MRC as well as a few thousand dollars for municipal taxes. “The road is used by other companies who offer commercial transportation, yet they pay nothing to maintain it. Other non-Quebec companies access the road and don’t even pay QST,” added Lauzon, noting that what was once a two hour drive to his lodge hauling a boat trailer in the summer now takes about five hours. In the summer, the road is also used by many tourists and other camp owners.
Danielle Belec, MRC Pontiac Communications Advisor, explained that while roads on Crown Land do not fall under the MRC’s responsibility (these roads are under the Ministry’s jurisdiction, and the user-pay principle is in place for road repair and maintenance), the MRC has identified major access roads on which it invests $205,000 per year, and is financed in part by TNO taxation revenues. “The major access road to Ten Mile Lodge is Rapides-des-Joachims Road. Fifty-nine kilometres of that road falls under major access or ‘priority’ roads in the MRC’s policy. As for the maintenance and repair of the secondary roads’ network, the responsibility falls to the users of those roads,” she told the Journal.
Last June, the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks launched a $1 million investment program (2015-2016) to repair priority bridges and culverts. The program was open to all Crown Land users, including outfitters and associations, who were invited to submit projects and get reimbursed for 80% of the costs to replace bridges and culverts and 100% of the material costs. According to Belec, the MRC took advantage of the program to repair priority roads and to participate in joint projects on the secondary road networks with private promoters; $75,000 from the TNO’s emergency fund was invested.
According to Lauzon, a group was given $80,000 to repair some of the old culverts along Rapides-des-Joachims Road last year, but the work has yet to be completed.