SHELBURNE - Shelly Hipson has had enough.
After months of correspondence with representatives from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal about the condition of the Shore Road in Shelburne County, she’s taking the fight to Province House.
On Jan. 11 Hipson and Bonnie VanBuskirk presented a petition with 311 signatures to MLA Sterling Belliveau asking the provincial legislature to pave the road. Belliveau has agree to introduce the petition during the spring session. A copy of that same petition has also been faxed to Minister of Transportation Geoff MacLellan.
“They don’t live on it. They come out and check it, but they aren’t trying to drive on it. They can’t even plow it properly, so in winter the conditions are extremely icy,” says Hipson.
When the spring comes and the pavement heaves due to frost, Hipson says that she and many other residents will be forced to reduce their speed from 80 km per hour, the posted limit, to between 20 and 30 km per hour due to uneven road conditions.
“If they (the province) have money for Bluenoses and other things, things that should be secondary, they can afford to cough up some cash for us,” says Hipson. “We need that infrastructure. This is our community.”
Greg Newell, Area Manager for Shelburne County with the Department of Transportation, says that they are aware of the community’s concerns and that they were aware of them previously.
“No, the road is not a safety issue. It’s regularly monitored and repaired by local crews,” said Newell.
Newell was able to confirm over the phone on Jan. 21 that the Shore road is “a candidate for a future paving project,” but that the new budget has already been approved and that the Shore Road was not a part of that.
“It could be next year. Or the year after,” says Newell.
Hipson says that isn’t good enough.
“I’d like to see our name in ink to give us a little bit of hope,” said Hipson. “I just want someone to say “Yes, we hear you. We’re going to look at our budget and see what we can do.””
When asked about the criteria for determining paving projects, Newell said “We compare roads across the province, and look at things like road condition, traffic volume, and roadside developments like houses, businesses and wharfs.”
To area residents, and to the many people who travel the road as part of the commercial fishing industry out of Ingomar and Gunning Cove, that answer isn’t good enough.
“Rural Nova Scotia matters, too,” said Hipson.