MPP hears about municipal concerns

CHARLTON-DACK - Local municipalities are being given an opportunity to share their concerns with Timiskaming-Cochrane NDP MPP John Vanthof.

He met with the council and staff of the Municipality of Charlton and Dack at their February 6 meeting. Neighbouring Chamberlain Township Reeve Kerry Stewart also sat in to listen to the feedback to questions posed during the first portion of the meeting.

One of the topics discussed was that of transport traffic on Highway 11. The issue was raised by Councillor Debbie Veerman who expressed concern about the possible impact on highway safety.

Vanthof responded that there is an issue with the training being provided to some of the transport drivers. He dismissed the idea that it is new Canadians who are behind the wheels of the transports who are untrained.

"I have talked to lots of drivers of many different races," he said, and there are good drivers in all groups.

He pointed out, though, that there is not the level of accidents occurring on Highway 401 as there are on Highway 11.

"The training is there," he said of the drivers who are on the Southern Ontario highway.

"I don't see the problems there that I see here and I think that is a lack of training."

One of the problems he thinks exists is that some trucking companies are training their own drivers. However, it’s the government that’s responsible for regulating the drivers.

Transport drivers also do not like Highway 11 and its challenges, including a lack of rest stops, he pointed out. It is an unpopular route for truckers, and given a choice, truckers with seniority in a company will take the Southern Ontario routes while the newer truckers will get the northern routes, he explained.

"I hear lots of complaints about this area from truckers. They don't like this area."

One of the comments he hears is that even though Highway 11 is part of the Trans-Canada highway, local drivers treat it as if it is a country road, he noted.

Charlton-Dack Reeve Sandra Parkins, who is licensed to drive a transport and has experience driving in both Southern and Northern Ontario, agreed.

“When you come up here, it’s a different beast. There’s moose and rock-cuts.”

Vanthof said he was pleased that the provincial government agreed to improve the snow removal standards for Highway 11. He said the goal now is to make sure the contractors have the resources to meet the requirements.


Councillor Veerman also noted the financial impact that is borne by incorporated municipalities to finance infrastructure such as roads, which are being used by residents in neighbouring unincorporated townships where residents pay less in taxes.

Vanthof said there have always been issues relating to unincorporated townships in the region.

Another concern is that of building standards which are not enforced, and a lack of taxation for other local services such as policing, ambulance services, the airport service and health care, it was pointed out.

Vanthof expressed the opinion that because of the growing movement for large groups of people to join together to set up small communities in unincorporated townships in the North "is forcing the province to act" to ensure standards are met, and to control the trend.

But Stewart noted that if building codes in unincorporated townships will have to be enforced in the future, another building inspector is going to be needed (paid for by municipalities).

But he agreed something needs to be done "and hopefully we do something before someone gets hurt."


Deputy-clerk Gisele Belanger, who is active in attempting to save the Charlton Legion building, commented about the need for more clarity on eligibility for projects that might be considered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Vanthof noted that there are "a lot more applications than there is funding" through the Ontario Trillium Foundation. On the other hand, he pointed out that the Temagami Legion was successful with an application to the Trillium Foundation.

Belanger said the project is important to the people of the area.

"We have tons of people who want in there and they're all willing to help."

The building was damaged in a flood during the pandemic and has since been the subject of efforts to clean and revitalize it.


Councillor Bill Laurila expressed worry about the fact that the Englehart hospital does not have blood for transfusions for patients in trauma, and that is not known to the general population. Vanthof noted that even if the service were available at the Englehart hospital, and local youths trained for the job, they would likely go to higher paying jobs in larger centres.

The need for a new long-term care facility in Englehart with more beds was also discussed, along with the need for better pay for nursing home staff.

Vanthof expressed hope for a new facility, and said a push is being made to get better pay for staff who care for elderly.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker