Residents who are concerned about the state of the local highways in the winter have the opportunity to have their say tonight. A provincial campaign will be hosting a public town hall meeting on the privatization of highway plowing in Ontario tonight.
Derrick Lamarche is with the We Own It campaign, which focuses getting highway maintenance back into the public sector. He spoke about what the campaign aims to do.
“We would like to see it back into the public hands and the taxpayer, and pay for quality services. In the past, the Ministry of Transportation had the public services contract to look after the highways. Since its went into the private sector, the quality of snowplowing isn’t the same. The standards aren’t where they used to be. We want to bring the focus back into the community. Highway 17 is a main artery in the area. It affects everybody. Safety is a concern.”
The MTO has said that they are satisfied with EMCON’s performance this past winter, although the ministry added that they have imposed a few minor consequences for EMCON. EMCON took over from Transfield who ended their contract with Queen’s Park in 2015.
Kenora Rainy-River MPP Sarah Campbell and Trevor Holliday of the Northern Ontario Party have both previously called for increased road maintenance in northwestern Ontario. The NOP has also called to bring snowplowing back into public hands.
The town hall meeting will have four guest speakers, including Warren “Smokey” Thomas, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, as well as three guest speakers who used to work with the MTO.