Petition calls for the return of year-round DTI depot

by | Oct 19, 2022

Canterbury store owner says closure of depot between April and October leaves area roads neglected

Residents of Canterbury have grown frustrated over the past decade as the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure closes its depot in their village from April to October and relocates operations to Debec.

Earlier this fall, on behalf of residents, businesswoman and lifelong area resident Laura Russell delivered a petition to Carleton-York MLA Richard Ames outlining their concerns and urging returning the Canterbury depot to year-round service.
Ames delivered the petition on behalf of his constituents.

DTI communications officer Tyler McLean said the petition was introduced at the Oct. 5 legislative session.

“The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure plans to review the petition for consideration,” he said.
Russell, the longtime owner of Russell’s Store in Canterbury, outlined some of the many complaints surrounding the absence of the DTI depot through the later part of spring, summer and early part of fall.

As a store owner, she regularly hears the list of complaints from residents and visitors to Canterbury and surrounding communities.

“As a business owner here in Canterbury, I know firsthand how deteriorated our roads have become,” she said. “For the last 12 years, our men and equipment leaves our DOT (Department of Transportation) in Canterbury York County and moves to Debec Carleton County.”

Russell believes the lack of a DTI depot led to the deterioration of roads served by the facility. She also contends money destined to improve roads in the Canterbury area went to the Debec area.

“A few years ago, $50,000 was allotted to be used for maintenance in our area, but Debec got to use most of it,” she wrote in a public letter.

Russell said DTI moved culverts stored at the Canterbury depot and needed in the immediate area to the Debec depot.
Russell specifically outlined roads, including gravel roads, which DTI has not adequately maintained in recent years.

“There is a dangerous washout on the side of the Upper Skiff Lake Road and another one on the side of (Route) 54O near Tamarack Lane,” she said.

“I personally observed both.” She said someone could be killed if they went into either washout on an icy road.
Russell said DTI crews recently added gravel to some dirt roads in the area but neither graded nor ditch the roads.

“So, the rain is just putting potholes and making ditches in the road,” she said.

Russell cited overgrown bushes near a Scotts Siding bridge, hindering motorists’ sight line.

McLean said the provincial transportation department began combining the Canterbury and Debec depots over the summer months in 2012. He said the Canterbury depot remains a winter-only division. McLean said the department has no immediate plans to close the Canterbury depot, even after municipal reform in January when Canterbury and Debec will become part of the new and expansive rural community of Lakeland Ridges.

“There is no plan for permanent amalgamation of the depots at this time, and local government reform should have no impact on the depot or department operations in the area,” he said.

The preamble to the petition cited the removal of staff and equipment from Canterbury every April, suggesting Carleton County roads gain preferential attention to those in York County.

The petition, however, added roads in both the Canterbury and Debec local services districts are “sadly neglected.”
The petition stated that the Canterbury depot is responsible for maintaining approximately 220 kilometres of road.
Russell said property owners, including the owners of residential properties in the region’s lakes regions, pay thousands of dollars in taxes annually. She said they get little return on the investment.

Russell said the government saves little by closing the Canterbury depot in the summer, suggesting travel from Debec to deal with routine DTI operations in the area eats up any savings.
Russell, who served as parade marshal during the Canterbury Days on Sept. 16, used the opportunity to present Ames, who also attended the parade, with the petition.

Ames said he would happily deliver it to the legislature, adding department officials would review it.
McLean offered no indication of when the review would take place or when department officials would make any decisions.

For road conditions, click the map

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