A first responder in Balgonie has started a petition for keeping a road open along with putting up an emergency access gate to a road that was closed just last week.
The road from Main Street to Highway 1, both east and west bound, was closed because of bypass work being done. Jesse Edwards, a member of the Balgonie Fire Department, said the road being closed is a safety issue.
“We’re not asking for the moon here. We’re asking to keep our right in and our right out access open,” he said reflecting the opening at Main Street to west bound Highway 1.
Edwards said the fire department would like to also see, a gate that would allow them to quickly access the eastbound lanes of Highway 1 in case of an emergency, like a crash on the highway.
“Right now, if we take the current bypass route, that adds three to five minutes on our response times, which is just — if you’re asking a first responder — that’s ludicrous and that could be the difference between life and death.”
He said there’s also the safety factor for the town itself.
“As a first responder, I can tell you (the Ministry of Highways) is doing more of a chance of causing harm to our town by closing it than they are opening it,” Edwards said. “You got to imagine where Balgonie’s located here. We’re located right beside the railroad tracks on a dangerous goods route so if a train derails, we would literally have one point to get out of town.”
Edwards went on to say with only having one road to get in and out of town, it would also be difficult for other emergency services to get there if a worst case situation were to happen.
“If an accident happened there (Balgonie service road and Highway 364), there’s nowhere to go,” he said. “Every town should have at least three access and exit points. Now if we have mutual aid coming, like another fire department coming, they’re going to be trying to get in and out of incoming traffic and it’s just, we see a recipe for disaster.”
He created a Facebook group that, to his surprise, has gained a lot of traction over the past couple of days. He said the page has been there for quite a while knowing the road was going to close at one point. But only until the road finally closed did other people start noticing the safety concerns.
“I started a Facebook group last October and until last Friday, I had about 24 members and I believe it shot up to over 400 in a matter of a few days.”
Edwards is hosting a town meeting at the fire hall in Balgonie Wednesday night to gain support for the petition. He hopes that with more signatures, the Ministry of Highways will take their concerns seriously and keep the intersection of Main Street to Highway 1 west open along with installing an emergency access gate to the westbound side of the highway.
Editors note: An earlier version of the article said Edwards was petitioning for an emergency gate at Main Street and Highway 1. He later called to clarify he wants the gate in between the east and west bound lanes of Highway 1 along with keeping Main Street to Highway 1 west open.