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Who should decide highway closures?

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Some northeastern Ontario mayors say they are hoping for a change in the process when it comes to highway closures – whether due to motor vehicle collisions or bad weather.

The NorthEastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA) has had the issue of highway closures on its agenda since February 2022.

Municipal officials told CTV News that highway closures have been happening much more frequently in recent years and it is having a direct impact on both citizen safety and municipal budgets.

Under the current process, municipalities are not consulted when it comes to deciding to close a highway.

“(Right now) it is an individual decision,” said NEOMA president Peter Politis.

“What we’re saying is should it be an individual decision or should we take the very same succinct approach we take with emergency measures and municipalities where there’s a formal process to make sure we have everything in place and we are making sure we have all the resources coming in to manage that.”

He said officials should not have to try and figure things out on the spot if there is an incident.

“When we do have an emergency incident and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) start reaching out to folks and start trying to figure out how to deal with it,” said Politis, adding there should be a plan in place.

Politis said the power to decide to close highways belongs to only the OPP and the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and as it stands they have no responsibility to consult with municipalities.

Neither the OPP or MTO was available to comment prior to the publishing of this article.

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