Ted Noble, Mayor of Nipper’s Harbour says that he has grave concerns over the conditions of the roads leading to his community, and the ones leading around it, and he isn’t getting much help from Government, Department of Highways, or in particular, he says, MHA Kevin Pollard.
Nippers Harbour is 17 kilometers from highway 414 which leads to La Scie. 12 of those 17 km are not paved, says Noble, and the hazards of the conditions are weighing heavy on everyone who’s affected by it.
“They’re closing schools all the time because of mold, and saying it’s hazardous to children, but the dust you get when you travel that road is just as bad as mold for the people who have to go through it.”
The five kilometers closest to Nipper’s Harbour and the roads in the community have pavement on them, says Noble, for such that it is. However, the lack of attention to the portion of road that doesn’t have the black-top, he says, has become not only a convenience and comfort issue, but a large safety one as well.
According to reports he’s hearing, he says, people have been known to ruin tires because of sharp rocks on the road leading to the community, which have caused blowouts and other near-accidents.
Noble says that there hasn’t been maintenance on the road or guardrails in the community of Nipper’s Harbour in at least two years. Now, he says, the guardrails have fallen down, and he fears it’s a safety issue for residents and those who visit the community.
“It’s useless to be there now, as far as I’m concerned, because the guard rail can’t provide any protection, and if something happens, people are going out there over a 100 foot drop,” he said. The guardrails have been damaged and flattened by snowplows, says the mayor, and they’ve been desperately trying to get the Department of Highways to see to their concerns.
“Our town clerk is worn out calling and trying to get something done, but we’re not getting any response,” he says. Such is the case as well with the condition of the gravel road that’s leading into town.
Noble says the Highways tells him there’s nothing more they can do, since the road is in need of major upgrades in the way of a new top, since it’s nearly down to the bedrock and can’t be graded much anymore.
“The Highways tell us if they try to grade it, it’ll only make it worse,” he says. “We asked them if they could put some gravel on it, and they asked us where we suggest they can get it. It’s just not good enough.”
The conditions of the road has been a topic the Mayor has brought up with MHA Kevin Pollard on a number of occasions, he says, but the MHA has always come back with the same answer: there’s not enough money.
“I grew up on gravel roads, so I know the challenges they pose,” said MHA Kevin Pollard in response to Noble’s comments. He says he understands the Mayor’s frustrations, and shares in them as well.
“I know the mayor wants the road paved – I want it paved too,” he said. “But the money just isn’t there.”
Noble says sometimes it feels like Nipper’s Harbour is the place that’s been forgotten by Government and the MHA representing them. At a population of just over 100 people, he says, the low numbers could be the reason they’re not getting more attention to the things they need.
However, the MHA says nothing can be farther from the truth.
“In 2009, we spent $1 million dollars to upgrade that road,” he said. “That’s no chump change – there are a lot of communities in this district that would like to have a million dollars.”
However, Noble says the work in 2009 seems to be a favourite card to play for the MHA and the Government, but the fact of the matter is, the work done in 2009 is little good to them today.
“We appreciated what was done in 2009 – we hardly knew what to think of it when we could ride over that class A stone,” he said. “But this is 2012 – that work is long gone, and we need major improvements again.”
Pollard says a sign that he hasn’t forgotten about Nipper’s Harbour is the fact that he’s had meetings with them on their issues, perhaps more than anyone else in recent months. The Mayor acknowledges that the MHA is willing to listen, but they’re tired of the listening and now want to see some actions.
“I’m really disgusted with the whole situation, because it feels like we’re getting the short end of the stick,” explained Noble. “There’s something wrong with this whole system.”
Pollard, on the other hands, says people need to realize the challenges facing him and Government when it comes to road work and the lack of available funds to meet the needs and wants.
“There’s just not enough money to go around – simple as that,” he said. “Road work is a huge challenge – when one thing is done, then something else comes up.”
Pollard says the community has done well in CEEP funding, which they got their share of, however, Noble says he’s upset that they haven’t received any money for Capital Works in five or six years – which adds to his case that they’re the lost sheep off the Highway.
However, when it comes to Capital Works, many communities didn’t come out smiling this year, as the MHA says he had over $11 million dollars in asks, and only four or five communities were approved.
“Nipper’s Harbour is still in the system, and hopefully they’ll be successful another year – like many more,” he said. “I really want to try and help everyone – but sometimes the money just isn’t there.”
Although, again, for Noble, he isn’t satisfied, but admits he’s growing weary of the lack of action.
“I wonder sometimes if it’s even worth fighting anymore,” he said. “Like I said – there’s something wrong with this system.”