Nova Scotia

N.S. snow plan ices out part of Inverness County road

The province has maintained all 6 kilometres of Stoney Point Road for decades.

Province's decision to only partially plow Stoney Point Road leaves residents with safety concerns

This is the area where the province widened the road and a private driveway entrance in order to allow its plow to turn around without completing Stoney Point Road. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Two Inverness County residents are speaking out against a decision the province made to stop plowing snow all the way to the end of their road near Orangedale, N.S.

The province has maintained all six kilometres of Stoney Point Road for decades, but it recently decided to stop doing the last two kilometres, where the stretch becomes privately owned.

"We're not looking for any maintenance," said Wayne Hopkins, who has lived on Stoney Point Road for a decade. "We're just begging that they could continue with the plow to go down the end of the point and back, which takes no longer than 15 to 20 minutes."

Hopkins said residents moved in on the understanding that snow was cleared in the winter.

Provincial public works officials widened the entrance to a resident's driveway and built a turnaround area for the plow where the road passes near MacLean Cove, about four kilometres from Orangedale and about two kilometres from the end of the road.

Hopkins said the only reason given for the move was that the province was divesting itself of private roads. But the Transportation Department told CBC News earlier this year that it provides some level of service, including plowing, on hundreds of private roads totalling nearly 100 kilometres.

Scott MacDonald and Wayne Hopkins at the plow turnaround built about two-thirds of the way along Stoney Point Road. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"We feel that either they all get done, or none of them should be done," said Hopkins, who has used his old tractor to move snow.

"It's very, very disappointing because there's so many residents here that use their cottages year-round and unfortunately, if I don't plow it with my little tractor, they won't have access to get in."

Hopkins said there are 17 property owners on the private portion of the road paying more than $20,000 in taxes every year.

He said they offered to pay the province for plowing, but were told that would cost nearly $18,000 a year — a figure Hopkins calls "ridiculous."

Inverness County won't plow the road and Hopkins said the municipality does not provide anything except emergency services.

'It's a safety issue'

Scott MacDonald, who also lives on Stoney Point Road, said snow plowing is necessary in case of an emergency requiring police, ambulance or the fire department.

"It's a safety issue, not only for the residents but also for the people that work in those departments," he said.

Hopkins said they tried to get local MLA Allan MacMaster involved, but his office recommended they call the provincial ombudsman's office.

Hopkins said he is waiting to hear back from the ombudsman.

"We're just asking for some fairness," he said. "It seems that we're caught between both the municipal and the provincial governments here and there's got to be some kind of common sense reasoning to try to get this resolved."

MacMaster told CBC News he doesn't know why the province used to plow the private part of Stoney Point Road.

"That's a source of frustration for myself, as well, because that puts everything into a grey area," he said.

The solution now is for the municipality to work with the province and residents to find a way to pay for plowing to the end of the road, MacMaster said. 

A 'Dead End' sign marks the end of the public portion and the start of the private part of Stoney Point Road. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

No one from the county council was available for comment.

Inverness chief administrative officer Keith MacDonald said council has discussed Stoney Point Road and sent a letter to the province earlier this year asking it to reconsider and continue plowing the entire road.

The Department of Public Works said in an email that it stopped servicing the private portion of the road after a review deemed it "inappropriate" to continue.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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