CVRD-Inco announced Friday it is closing a private road near Copper Cliff to the public.
While there will be no gates blocking off access to Clarabelle Mill Rd. until April, the mining company is asking residents not to drive on the road.
“We'd rather you not drive on the road. With no gate in sight (until April) it's difficult to enforce, but we think people are well aware of the situation and will be respectful,” said CVRD-Inco spokesperson Cory McPhee.
When the gates are put up in the spring, only vehicles on CVRD-Inco business, as well as emergency and rescue vehicles, will be given passes to get through.
The road, which has been around since at least the 1940s, connects Godfrey Dr. in Copper Cliff with Highway 144. Many residents of the community use the road to get to Chelmsford, New Sudbury or the downtown core.
Although “no trespassing” signs are posted at either end of the road, CVRD-Inco has historically tolerated its use by private citizens.
The company started looking at problems surrounding the road after a group of Godfrey Dr. residents complained about heavy truck traffic in their neighbourhood and 200 of them signed a petition to have the road closed.
Copper Cliff businesspeople concerned the possible road closure could hurt business started another petition last month asking that the city to take over the road from the mining company.
More than 200 people have signed the petition, and the newly-elected councillor for the area, Jacques Barbeau, will present it at the city council meeting Dec. 13.
“It's a case where we had a concern raised about truck traffic on an industrial road, said McPhee.
“We investigated and found that there was a possibility of an accident occurring, and if there was an accident, we would be liable as a company. In response to the concerns that were raised, we decided to restrict access to the road.”
Ten years ago, a private vehicle collided with a train on Clarabelle Mill Rd., and the company was forced to pay damages, says McPhee.
According to a traffic study done recently by CVRD-Inco employees, there were four accidents along Clarabelle Mill Rd. from the beginning of 2005 until the middle of 2006.
CVRD-Inco has reduced the amount of heavy truck traffic on the road in the past year by asking drivers on company business to use a separate truck route instead and denying access to trucks not on company business.
The traffic study shows it takes the same amount of time (six minutes) to get to Highway 144 whether you drive down Clarabelle Mill Rd. or drive down Municipal Rd. 55 and turn onto Big Nickel Mine Rd.
“I'm hoping (the road closure) won't have any impact on Copper Cliff citizens,” said McPhee.
“I understand the concern from the business community in particular, but I think if people are enjoying the services they get in Copper Cliff, it means Copper Cliff is open for business.”
McPhee says the petition asking the city to take over the road probably won't accomplish anything.
“I guess if the city came to us with an interest in taking over the road, I suppose that could be something that was explored. I don't think the city has any interest in taking over the road though.”
Pat Oppedisano, who owns Pat's Barber Shop in Copper Cliff, was one of the businesspeople in the community collecting signatures on the petition asking the city to take over the road.
“I'm not very happy (the road is closing to the public), but what can I do about it?” he says.
“There's always a hope the city will take over the road, but CVRD-Inco is very big, so I doubt it very much. To tell you the truth, I don't think anybody is going to do anything about it.”
Rachel Russell, who lives on Godfrey Dr. near Clarabelle Mill Rd, was one of the citizens behind the petition asking the mining company to close the road.
“I think CVRD-Inco made a wise decision for the safety of the community of Copper Cliff as well as their employees,” she says.
“I understand that a lot of people might not like the fact that it is closed, but I think with time the community will understand that it's a positive thing.”