Western Quebec road still inaccessible after 2017 washout


More than 20 months after heavy rain washed out a winding rural road that connected a pair of western Quebec communities, there’s still no word on when — or if — the road will ever reopen.


Rushing water washed away two sections of Paugan Road, between Low and Poltimore in the municipality of Denholm, Que., in October 2017.

The damage rendered the 23-kilometre road impassable, severing a crucial link for school buses, mail delivery and emergency vehicles.

It also forced residents living between the two washouts to take far longer routes for everyday trips.

Denholm Mayor Gaétan Guindon told Radio-Canada the road needs to be repaired before tragedy strikes. (Radio-Canada)

‘Tragic event’ possible

Last year, the province’s ministries of transportation and public safety agreed to pay 93 per cent of the approximately $2-million cost of repairing Paugan Road, with the municipality on the hook for the remaining seven per cent.

But Gaétan Guindon, the mayor of Denholm, said the municipality is stuck waiting for the province to begin the bidding process — and while they wait, the road poses a danger to local residents.

Guindon told Radio-Canada the ministries were still “bickering” over who pays what for the reconstruction.

He said residents have been starting to ignore the safety measures put in place, and that the road’s current instability could lead a possible collapse.

“We cannot wait until a tragic event happens before we finally do something,” Guindon said in a French-language interview.

Mathieu Lacombe, the minister responsible for the Outaouais, said in an email he was following the file closely and that the transportation ministry was working closely with the municipality to ensure the road gets repaired.

A portion of Paugan Road was also washed out during the 2016 spring thaw.