Saint John residents fight for private road to be fixed

Saint John residents in the city’s north end are waiting to see whether the city will rebuild the private road after it was washed out several weeks ago.

Councillor says the city is not responsible for fixing Beach Road

Beach Road, which is in Saint John's north end, was damaged several weeks ago in a storm. Residents are waiting for the road to be fixed. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Residents of Saint John's north end are waiting to see whether the city will rebuild their private road after it was washed out several weeks ago.

The fight is over Beach Road and whether it is up to the city or private owners to pay for rebuilding the road.

Residents had to spend weeks walking along the beach to get home until someone used a tractor to build what some locals described as a "cow path" to drive on.

There is still plenty of evidence of the storm that damaged the road.

Gary Gill and others have been moving debris from the road for weeks.

Residents living along Beach Road are asking for the city to fix the road. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
"My driveway and front yard area have between eight and 12 inches of pulverized material, so I'm scooping it up, putting it in a wheel barrow, bringing it down to the beach and burning it," he said.

Gill said the owner of the land doesn't want to fix the road because the city has maintained it for years.

But one councillor is distancing the city from any obligation to cover the cost of fixing Beach Road.

Coun. John MacKenzie said it's not the city's job to pay to rebuild the road.

“The city is doing nothing with the road right now,” he said.

“It's private property. It's no different than you having a long driveway to your house.”

MacKenzie said he's trying to arrange a meeting next week with the residents to work out the problem.

Walter Ball, a former Saint John city councillor, said the city should have no problem fixing the road.

“I think that there's a precedent that has been made — having plowed the road, graded the road,” Ball said.

“And now this time with this disaster, it's not the time to decide, 'Well, maybe we better not do this anymore.’”

Ball said it would take a minimal amount of effort on the city’s part to make the road passable again.

“It's four or five feet of gravel that has to be moved by grader or front-end loader. That's all it takes, it's not rocket science. It's quite simple to do,” he said.