Nova Scotia

Dangerous Cape Breton road to get more snow clearing

Some of the province's most challenging roads will now have some overnight snow clearing. When the weather is bad snowplow operators on the Cabot Trail north of Cheticamp will stay on the road overnight clearing snow.

Communities in northern Cape Breton lobbied for the increased service

The road over North Mountain Cape Breton in March 2011. People in northern Cape Breton are lobbying Parks Canada for overnight snow clearing. Residents worry they won't be able to travel the road if there's an emergency. (http://www.cabotshores.com/north-mountain-in-early-march-3077)

Some of Nova Scotia's most challenging roads will now have some overnight snow clearing.

When the weather is bad snowplow operators on the Cabot Trail north of Cheticamp will stay on the road overnight clearing snow.

The particular section of trail travels over steep mountains and has long uninhabited stretches. It's also known for having large amounts of snow and no cell phone service.

Pleasant Bay resident Niki Pike has been fighting for changes on the trail.

She said she isn't happy with the snowplows 20 hour schedule, which runs from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., keeping workers off the road for four hours every night.

"If I need a police officer at my door, already I'm 45 minutes from where he is so if I end up doubling that time, that's the difference between life and death if it's a police officer or an ambulance," said Pike.

"If I go out in the middle of the night because my child has a fever and I'm getting them to the hospital then I could very easily find myself in a situation that could make an emergency situation worse. Not only that, we don't have cell service up there."

The stretch of road is in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, so it's Parks Canada's responsibility to keep the road clear.

There are still no plows permanently assigned to work overnight, but field superintendent Chip Bird said an important change has been made.

"Before they go off shift at 12:30 they will monitor our remote weather station on French Mountain, also monitor the current conditions and the weather forecast and if there is snow in the forecast the crews will stay out."

Residents also complained that emergency cabins on the mountains were left snowed in and had phones that were out of service.

Bird said Parks Canada has improved phone service at the cabins and will check them regularly.

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