Bruce County committee discusses how COVID-19 could affect road maintenance

·2 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The county’s transportation and environmental services committee approved a staff recommendation that the road network service levels be amended to address a significant workforce shortage.

The committee approved a further recommendation, that the director of transportation and environmental services be authorized to temporarily declare a reduced maintenance event under exceptional circumstances.

Miguel Pelletier, director of transportation and environmental services, told council that road conditions could be affected by more than a significant weather event. COVID-19 has raised the possibility that the workforce could be reduced to the point where roads could not be maintained properly.

“What would we do if our workforce got sick or assigned to other duties?” he asked.

With weather, the county is able to declare a significant event and notify the public through the county website, social media and the media. The declaration means the county would not be held liable if it failed to meet minimum maintenance standards (MMS).

A significant reduction in the workforce, defined as 20 per cent or more, could also mean the roads wouldn’t meet MMS. However, this isn’t included in the Municipal Act 2001.

Pelletier said the county’s solicitor provided input on the county’s obligation to meet MMS.

The declaration of a reduced maintenance event would advise the public that service levels may not be met, but roads are still deemed to be in a good state of repair. The county would make a best effort to meet service levels with available resources.

If such an event were declared, the committee, council or emergency control group would determine if further steps were warranted, for example, road closures.

It would be handled much the same as a weather event, in that the public would need to be informed, and the county would continue to be responsible for ensuring roads were maintained.

He explained it isn’t clear-cut; he’s trying to establish a process.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times