Feb 21, 2017 @ 13:10
The highway closure at Northern Lights Ford this morning has once again stranded residents of Dubreuilville. With Highway 17 closed from Wawa to White River, there is no way for residents of Dubreuilville to leave. By default, Highway 519 is closed whenever Highway 17 from Wawa to White River is closed.
Most times that makes sense. This time, however, it made no sense at all.
The highway was closed between Wawa and White River, about 15km north of Wawa at the Northern Lights Ford and Northern Lights Motel due to a washout. Not because of poor weather. That closure meant that no one could travel from Dubreuilville to Wawa, which they couldn’t do because the road was blocked. It also meant that they couldn’t travel from Dubreuilville to White River or White River to Dubreuilville.
That stranded workers, who couldn’t go to White River to work nor employees return home. The Richmont Mine was idled today because their employees couldn’t travel. Remember the difficulty was just north of Wawa – it didn’t impede travel from Dubreuilville to White River.
Why the highway wasn’t closed from Wawa to the junction of Hwy 17 / Hwy 519 is confusing. OPP usually man the closure barricades, manning it in White River. Whether it was closed at White River or at the junction of Hwy 17 / Hwy 519 it still meant that someone would be manning it.
Had the highway been open from White River to the Highway 519 Junction, employees from the Wesdome Gold Mine could have traveled in and out to White River, and taken a very long detour to travel back to Wawa. But they at least could travel down to Crayfish Lake or other lakes to go fish, their road wasn’t closed at the mine site.
In August of 1995, a forest fire cut off access to Dubreuilville for a week. Residents were evacuated, most to Wawa. That was because the fire was threatening the highway, and without another way out – people were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Highway 519 is the only road in, and the only road out since a backroad was washed out several years ago near Missinabie… The ACR used to be a way out, but that is no longer an option with the loss of the Passenger Train. A hardy soul might try snowmobiling, but the warm temperatures and rain would make that an interesting ride. Dubreuilville residents are stranded when Highway 519 is closed.
This is a problem for residents and businesses in Dubreuilville. They lose money when tourists can’t drive in, or businesses get deliveries. The Dubreuilvile Municipal Council has made a request to the MNRF for another exit road. They are still thinking about it.