The Outaouais municipality of Denholm, Que., is making a formal request to the province to take over management of a rural road that was washed out during a severe rain storm in October.
Paugan Road has been closed since torrential rain on Oct. 29 made two sections impassable, severing a crucial link for school buses, mail delivery and emergency vehicles and forcing residents caught in the middle to take far longer routes for basic needs.
Tuesday evening the municipal council passed a resolution asking the province's transportation ministry to fix the damage and either take over management of the road or enter into a partnership agreement with the municipality to repair it.
During Tuesday's tense council meeting, residents presented a petition signed by 20 citizens calling for the urgent re-opening of the road to prevent a potential tragedy.
'Accept your responsibility'
"We have children at risk, we have seniors at risk and it is not an acceptable situation that any road should be closed in winter conditions," said former Denholme mayor Colette Boisvert-Canavan.
"Our fire trucks now have an extended delay. The whole situation is not acceptable," Boisvert-Canavan said. "All politicians, municipal and provincial, please accept your responsibility and open some one-ways for security reasons for these residents."
Current mayor, Gaétan Guindon, has said there's no money in the municipal account to repair the road. A crater nine metres wide, 26 metres long and nearly four metres deep makes the road impassable, he said.
Initial estimates have pegged the cost of repairing just one of the washed-out sections at as much as $3 million — about double the municipality's entire annual operating budget — if it's determined a retaining wall is required.
The council resolution also calls on neighbouring municipalities such as Low and Val-des-Monts to adopt their own resolutions to inform the province that the road serves regional needs, not just local ones.
The road links the communities of Low and Poltimore, and provides faster access to Routes 105, 307 and 309 and Highway 50 for local residents.