After a man was stranded in his truck for eight hours, people in a tiny community in the northwest are calling for better maintenance of a road on which they rely.
CN Rail worker Shawn Regan, who drives on Industrial Road between his home in Longlac and job in Hillsport [near Manitouwadge] at least twice a week, said he knows first-hand that the road doesn't get adequate plowing.
Last Friday the snow stopped his 4X4 truck in its tracks.
"I got stuck around ... 12:30 [p.m.]... and I was snowmachined out of there ... around 8:30 [p.m.]," he said.
Regan's colleague, Fern Narbonne, lives in nearby Hillsport and said the community relies on Industrial Road.
"For ambulance services, police services ... that is supposed to be their main road."
The road was once plowed by a company owned by Buchanan Forest Products, but when that company shut down the road reverted to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
MNR spokesperson Jolanta Kowalski said the ministry is not required to maintain forest roads — but hired a contractor to plow it as a goodwill gesture.
"The community had been using the road for so long ... [so] we agreed to do one-time plowing from November of 2012 to March 31st of this year," she said.
"Usually forest access roads that aren't ... being used by forest companies any longer aren't maintained and they're 'use at your own risk'."
Kowalski added that there is another route in and out of Hillsport via private roads maintained by a local forestry hauling company.
Because there's been so much snow since the plowing contract ended on March 31st, the MNR will arrange for Industrial Road to be cleared again in the next couple of days, she noted.
But for next winter, there are no guarantees.
Getting stuck on that road is something Regan does not want to repeat.
"It's right in the middle of the bush," he said.
"There was just so much snow ... It was just horrendous."
Narbonne said the province should take responsibility for Industrial Road.
"This is Ontario," he said. "We should be able to be looked after. The population here is small, but there's still people living here."