A group of residents in rural Thunder Bay is demanding the city take action to improve the condition of their local road.

The McIntyre ward residents say Government Road was a dusty mess all summer until the city applied dust suppressant two weeks ago. 

Until then, every car that drove down the street caused a dust storm, area resident Joyce Pedri recalled.

“I couldn't open my windows. I couldn't put my laundry out,” she said.

“We couldn't have a cup of coffee out on the deck.  Your mouth was full of dust.”

Resident Brook Latimer said it was hard taking her son for a walk in his stroller because he'd be covered in dust.

"I'd put down the plastic cover just to keep him safe from it,” she said.

"Without this road, we have no community.”

Pedri put a letter in her neighbours' mailboxes asking them to sign the bottom to support her request to speak with Thunder Bay city council about the issue. So far, she has received 22 signed letters in response.

She will speak to council next week. 

“We don't have sidewalks, so when we do use the road, it becomes an important time for us to just share in conversation,” she said.  "Without this road, we have no community.”

dusty government road, thunder bay

Thunder Bay usually grades gravel roads in spring, then applies a dust suppressant. But ongoing rain delayed the application, a city official says. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

The city usually grades gravel roads in spring, then applies calcium chloride, a dust suppressant.

Acting roads department manager Brian Kral said the city was behind in maintenance this year, partly because of the late spring and partly because of rain.

"We did go through several cycles there where we prepped roads for calcium chloride and it rained and we had to wait and then we regraded again and then it rained again," he said. 

Roads have to be dry for grading and calcium chloride applications, he noted.

"This is one of those Murphy's law things."

Normally, he said, the city would've wrapped up calcium chloride applications by the end of June.  This year crews are just wrapping up now.

Kral noted the city's road maintenance standards are the same as they've always been. What changed this year was the weather.

"We never altered anything in terms of doing our best to make sure the gravel roads were in as good condition as we could get them in given the weather and the resources we had available to do that," Kral said.

The city had to use a smaller truck this year, and its calcium chloride supplier was unable to deliver to the city's yard at one point because its equipment broke down, Kral added.  The city had to send a truck to City Road to collect the product.

"And with the James Street bridge being down we couldn't go over there. We had to go all the way 'round the Expressway, so I mean that's a long haul coming back," Kral said. 

"This is one of those Murphy's law things. Anything that could've gone wrong, kind of did go wrong this year."