Eganville – Access to Tranquility Bay Road, which is located in Bonnechere Valley Township, is still an issue and with winter fast approaching there is hope a compromise can be reached with the neighbouring community of Pikwakanagan whose council installed a gate blocking their portion of the road.
It has become an issue of access and safety for the dozen property owners on the private road and some of whom are planning to make this a permanent residence.
“That’s an awful ugly hill there, even going up there in the summertime,” Bonnechere Valley Councillor Merv Buckwald said during a committee meeting of council last Tuesday afternoon via ZOOM.
The hill he was referring to is the part of Tranquility Bay Road which leads from Hoffman Road near the corner of Hoffman and Ruby and down towards Golden Lake, and maintaining the hill in the winter is a concern for the private road residents. A recent decision by the Pikwakangan band council to keep the gate closed on another flatter road leading onto the First Nation is creating some concern about how First Responders will be able to access Tranquility Bay Road and how year-round residents will be able to travel back and forth from their homes. The issue had been introduced to council when the gate was first installed by one of the property owners on Tranquility Bay, who expressed concern about access to property and especially the issue of access in winter when the steep hill is virtually impassible. Because it is a private road, BV does not work on the road or provide maintenance or snowplowing services.
The railway bed which leads closer to the cottages and homes on Tranquility Bay, is used by ATVs and snowmobiles and not maintained as a road. In contrast, Pikwakanagan has transformed the old railway bed in the community into a road and treats it as such.
Coun. Buckwald said he was discussing the issue for the last several months with residents of Tranquility Bay.
“One of the proposals I put forward was each of the 14 property owners put $100 or $200 into a pot and offer to the First Nations to keep up the road,” he said.
There is a small stretch of road which is not maintained leading towards Pikwakangan on the old railway bed. This is the portion which would need to be opened and the gate opened so residents of Tranquility Bay could access their properties through Pikwakanagan.
Coun. Buckwald said the issue needed to be looked at before winter.
“I do know there are even summertime problems,” he said. “A few meetings ago Dave (Fire Chief Dave Murphy) was talking about access to private roads with the fire truck.”
Works Supervisor Jason Zohr said one option which was discussed was the railway bed, but the snowmobile club has that under contract. He was refereeing to the portion of the old railway bed going from Zadow Road towards Tranquility Bay Road. However, Coun. Buckwald said this was not a practical solution. He said it was too narrow and there would be no spot to pull over when there is oncoming traffic. As well, there are snowmobiles on it. Coming to an arrangement with Pikwakanagan would be the best option, he said.
Mayor Jennifer Murphy said she had been in touch with the Pikakwanagan band council and the council was not willing to open the gate.
“I spoke with Chief (Wendy) Jocko yesterday and they did vote to keep the gate closed,” she said. “I asked if there was any compromise we could come to.”
The chief and mayor agreed to pass this on to the public works directors of BV and Pikwakanagan to see if the two could meet to find another solution.
“She suggested maybe there was something their public works director could take back to council,” she said. “This is an emergency services problem and challenge.”
Mayor Murphy told Mr. Zohr he should try to have the meeting as soon as possible to see if a solution could be found.
Private Roads and Winter Access
Later in the meeting Chief Murphy told council he has been speaking with several property owners on private roads throughout the township. He said with the border closed to the United States, many people are opting to stay in their cottages.
“A lot of people are calling asking us to go in and access their private roads,” he said. “There are a lot of snowbirdsactually staying at their cottages this year.” This makes the property owners more aware of what is needed for proper winter access, he said.
“They are thinking about accessibility,” he said. “I’ve been out quite a bit giving advice.
“I have a feeling we will have a lot more people in our township than normal this winter,” he said.
Mayor Murphy said having the fire chief consult with private roads on what was needed to ensure proper access for fire trucks has always been a good program.
“More than other years I think people are winterizing their cottage and making plans to stay in anticipation they will not be able to go south at all this winter,” she said.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader