Huron County staff to investigate updates to municipal 511 program

HURON COUNTY – Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan asked for an update on the municipal 511 program at the recent Huron County council meeting, telling fellow councillors that the subject had come up in his riding during its last council meeting.

County Engineer and Director of Operations Steve Lund responded to the question, explaining the program and some misconceptions that can cause confusion.

The municipal 511 program is sometimes confused with Ontario 511, which covers road conditions.

“We have been up and operating on municipal 511 for probably a couple of years now, just in terms of our construction notices, where we have road closures and detours,” said Lund.

Not wanting to duplicate services already provided by Ontario 511 and the Weather Network, Lund said that people seeking road conditions could use those services.

“We’re also part of a group that’s aligned with the Good Roads Association in terms of looking at a permitting system, which we’re currently working on now, too,” said Lund. “The advantage of that is if you have a load moving through several counties, it’ll be sort of a one-stop shop with the 511 system.

“We get a lot of loads coming through from Sarnia. So, if they’re going through Huron, we’ll be able to permit alongside Lambton County and wherever else you’re going. So that’s kind of a work in progress right now. I think it’s going to be very valuable to the economic sector.”

Coun. Robert Fisher (Deputy Mayor, Huron East) asked how people would go about accessing the Weather Network, indicating that some people don’t have access to the internet on many of the county roads, and that could be a concern for folks who want to know the best route through bad weather.

“I think that’s what our councillor was hoping for, was that the road conditions, weather wise, would be on municipal 511,” said Fisher.

Lund replied, “OK, so the 511 that you’re referring to is the MTO 511 system. The one that I’m referring to is municipal 511. They are two different systems. 511, I believe, covers the provincial highway system, and not the county road system. So, in order to access the county road system, you have to access municipal 511 online, they’re two different platforms.”

The council ultimately decided to have staff prepare a report to look into the feasibility of adding road conditions to the municipal 511 system and compile a list of alternative ways to access the information so that there is no unnecessary duplication of services.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times