Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites


» TODAY'S EDITORIAL: Cuts to overnight highway plowing an NDP brain freeze

Snow plows on a Manitoba highway in the early morning morning after a snow storm.

FILE Enlarge Image

Snow plows on a Manitoba highway in the early morning morning after a snow storm.

"This is a safety issue first and foremost, as every Manitoban knows that it doesn’t have to be snowing for snow to cause problems, blowing and drifting across highways. However, this is also a cutback that could have a negative impact on economic activity."

- Manitoba Trucking Association president Norn Blagden


For the sake of $2.3 million in savings, the provincial government has decided to cut overnight shifts for highways maintenance workers.

As the Brandon Sun reported yesterday, the cuts affect the overnight plowing shift that runs between 11:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. for the Trans-Canada Highway as well as Highways 10 and 16 in Westman. Key routes in and around Winnipeg — Highways 6, 59, 75, 100 and 101 — will also be impacted.

New upgrades on sections of Highway 10, Highway 75 and the Trans-Canada not withstanding, the roads in question are in a poor enough state as it is. Providing even less maintenance for these highways is not even a question of poor road surfacing anymore — it now becomes a question of safety, as Blagden mentions above.

All of these roads are major trade routes, and as the Manitoba Trucking Association has noted, the reduction of snow clearing services on them will impact just-in-time freight movements, especially those that rely on overnight service to rural communities within Manitoba.

Ron Weatherburn, the executive director of maintenance at Manitoba Transportation, told the Winnipeg Sun that the move will save more than $2 million, and also require 12 fewer seasonal workers this winter.

"When it comes to budgets, we need to be fiscally responsible, especially in this economic time," Weatherburn said.

In our opinion, the province is attempting to cut corners on safety on the backs of rural Manitobans and rural businesses, and hiding behind the phrase "fiscal responsibility" will not change that fact.

The Brandon terminal manager for Gardewine Group Inc., George Edwards, told the Sun that what they do now is close the highways more often than in the past for safety reasons.

"They close it frequently, and it was overnight when they would go out and clean," Edwards said. "Now they don’t even want to do that. That will have a huge effect on us in Brandon and on a lot of businesses too."

Edwards said if the roads are bad and need to be cleaned, a lot of people won’t get their shipments on time, especially as many loads tend to move along the highway between Winnipeg and Brandon at night.

The province’s move could also affect service workers in the transportation industry, such as warehouse workers.

At the same time, what good does it to complete road repairs on three major provincial arteries, and then cut the budget to maintain these roadways? Within a few years we’ll be right back to square one.

This is a very poor plan, especially for a province on the verge of a new winter season. Never mind that a provincial spokesman said there are contingency plans for major weather events, or that plows and sanding trucks would be deployed when required.

If the province goes ahead with its plans, we predict that roads will be closed far more frequently for "safety reasons," all to save a few taxpayer bucks. Quite frankly, most Manitobans would likely agree that infrastructure construction, highway maintenance and road safety are more than worthy of taxpayer funding, and should be increased, not decreased.

What the government has failed to realize is that damaging commerce in rural Manitoba and increasing the possibility of fatal accidents on our provincial highways carries a much larger price tag.


Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 11, 2012

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.


Make text: Larger | Smaller

2017 Brandon Sun Community Leader Awards
Brandon Sun - Readers Choice Results
Why Not Minot?

Social Media