An ice storm blankets the trees along a backland road.

ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council will hold a special meeting next week to discuss how to get dirt roads fixed up.

During the regular monthly meeting on Sept. 27, Warden Amanda Mombourquette said municipal staff researched the possibility of a funding partnership between the province and Richmond County to upgrade j-class roads.

“The information that came back was that submitting the list does not commit the municipality to actually upgrading the roads,” she told council. “The province will review all requests and come back with a notice of acceptance to the municipal units. I believe that will also include budgeted costs for those requested upgrades, which of course, may be adjusted once the actual tender goes out. But if tender pricing comes in higher, the municipality will be advised of the revised contribution, and then prior to the tender being awarded, we may provide written acknowledgement that we don’t want to proceed with the work, if it’s more than we can afford.”

Mombourquette told council this would impact budget 2022-2023, and staff included generic costs per kilometre for such road work, but she cautioned that costs can vary, depending the contractor and the location of the work.

Because she has received many complaints about the condition of roads, the warden recommended council hold a discussion about submitting a list.

“What I was thinking we might do is try to establish a process or have a discussion that is solely focused on the j-class roads and how we may, or may not, want to participate,” Mombourquette said. “I don’t know about you folks but the number one complaint I get from constituents is about roads and I feel like it deserves a great deal of attention.”

Councillor Brent Sampson agreed that roads are the biggest concern he hears about.

“The bulk of the concerns we get from residents have to do with roads, and if we’re able to help in some way on that, I think we definitely should because it’s the biggest concern I get,” he responded.

Councillor Melanie Samson said council will have to meet soon to get the list approved by next month’s regular meeting, and submit it to the Department of Public Works.

“They’re looking for us to create an overall county list. I did a little bit of if already and I’m going to continue it tomorrow, visiting my j-class roads, making a list for myself; how many houses are on the road, what is the condition of the road, maybe taking pictures,” she said. “I feel it’s very important. I think this is an area where council is able to affect change that will really be meaningful to our residents.”

Deputy Warden Michael Diggdon suggested that roads in the poorest condition, along areas where the most people live, will likely get more attention from the province.

“It’s not about just throwing all our roads into one pot,” he said. “Everybody knows that the province, like the municipality, only has so much money that they can spread out. Spreading it out to the most important road is what has to be done.”

Council agreed to meet on Oct. 4, before its committee of the whole session on Oct. 12.