'I was unable to go to work the entire week': Sask. couple facing roadblock after RM stops snow-clearing access road
SASKATOON -- Living in rural areas of Saskatchewan may be a dream for many, not much traffic matched with little noise, but for a couple living within the rural municipality of Aberdeen that dream oasis turned problematic when their access road flooded in 2013.
“Porter Lake expanded putting our driveway about 10-12 feet underwater,” said the owner of the home Jeanne Waldner.
The Rural Municipality of Aberdeen has maintained Jeanne and Jeff Waldner’s access road since 1989. The portion that flooded over belongs to the R.M of Aberdeen and the couple's neighbours. The couple was granted a temporary road spanning 2.2 kilometres which the RM built.
“The RM has gratefully maintained (the road) up until currently,” said Waldner. “Over the summer decided that they were no longer responsible for that.”
The ordeal has placed a burden on them, according to the couple.
“The last week I was unable to go to work the entire week because I was unable to get off the yard until Friday at 3 p.m. when my husband’s employment, Biomed had paid the entire bill of what had been owing for snow removal up to this point and they managed to get the road opened up Friday,” Waldner told CTV News.
In total, the couple has paid $300 to have the access road plowed themselves, while Biomed paid a total of $678.40.
The RM of Aberdeen gave this response:
"For ten years, the Rural Municipality of Aberdeen has, though under no legal obligation to do so, attempted to assist the Waldner’s by providing temporary access to their yard at no cost, with the support of their neighbours. We would all have hoped that the flooding that caused this situation would have since subsided, but it regrettably has not. The RM has determined that the time has come to seek a permanent solution that is equitable to all ratepayers including the Waldner’s."
“There’s many times of the year family cannot get here,” said Waldner. “If we’re scared of winds in the winter time family does not come.”
Waldner also highlighted how the spring brings on mud making it difficult to navigate the 2.2 km driveway.
“Why the sudden change? Why now? What’s going on now that were unaware of?” asked Waldner.
A University of Saskatchewan College of Law assistant professor believes the RM should foot the bill.
“If this is on municipal property and if it is road built by the municipality, open to the public, then they have an obligation to repair that road under the statute,” Felix Hoehn said.
This story has been corrected to state that the area in question is an access road, not a driveway.