On the road to find out


by Peter Johnson

In the first February edition of the NG-Times, for 2023, Mr. Mayer’s article spoke to the condition of roads in North Grenville. It posed the question, ‘Are North Grenville roads really that bad?’ Potholes were the focus of part of the article. Potholes? A problem? Fixing potholes on gravel roads? What? Let’s look at this from the perspective of those of us living on a typical ‘United Empire Loyalist’ road.

While some might think that it is just terrible that pothole season might soon be upon us, there are those of us who have lived for decades on a road where there are no potholes. Our entire road is like the bottom of a pothole! The road has never seen pavement or surfacing of any kind. Never. Nor will it,  soon. Not under the present guidelines and/or requirements. Not under the people making and enforcing the decades-old policy. (For clarification: this is not a criticism of Mr. Barclay. John has been very attentive to my concerns. Previous administrations have ignored my appeals, but the Deputy-Mayor has been as helpful as the department of roads and snow removal will permit)

The township has stated that it intends to ‘surface’ all roads. It is particularly galling and irritating, therefore, to see paved roads being re-paved, while we wait, wondering if we will ever see such luxurious surfacing. Sections of Denison/Johnston as well as Porter Road, just to mention a few, were upgraded last summer. Upgraded as in: already paved and now, being paved again. That doesn’t make us feel important in the least.

While other roads have been surfaced, for decades, and are getting resurfaced, at the rate of what? $600,000 per kilometer, residents on my road can only wish they were so lucky. We remain just one small step up from Pioneer Days.  

Sure, we have culverts, and we were even treated to some fresh gravel a few years back, but overall, we drive on rocks: not good for the paint job on any vehicle. Sections of the road are a perpetual washboard. Dust so thick you can’t make out what kind of vehicle is coming at you, is common, for many months of the year. During the winter, the road is snow-covered, packed down to the consistency of ice.  In the summer, to keep the dust down, a salt solution is applied to the road. That must be just lovely for our ground source wells.

A reality of dirt roads is that they are significantly narrower than paved or surfaced roads. When approaching large farm vehicles or construction equipment, you must pull over as far as you can. Deep ditches and snow banks make this a hazardous gamble. Because the policy of snow clearing is to plow the snow towards the mailboxes, the postal service feels the same, when it becomes hazardous road conditions; they will only deliver to group mailboxes and stay off of the narrow, colonial-era, dirt roads.  

The policy that nothing or no one can delay or stop the delivery of the mail does not apply to those who plan the snow-removal routes, apparently. They must have a special exemption.  

Requests to reconsider this policy, over the past 25 years, have consistently been met with the same response: silence or refusal to change.

So, my fellow North Gremlins, we who are stuck with the poorest of all roads in the area, can only wish that we had the same pothole problems as the rest of the populace. But, alas, when you have lived on a dirt road for 25 years…probably the only one this close to the center of Kemptville…and it looks like it will be another long, wait for any change, I have to take solace in the fact that: 

a) I can always sell-out and move or…

b) at my age, I won’t live long enough to see another 25 years of gravel, dust and buried mailboxes.

Peter Johnson (Upper Oxford Mills…the primitive, colonial Portion)



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