Some residents in the Pender Harbour area are steaming after a handful of aging asphalt roads were chip-sealed, a cost-saving alternative to fresh paving.
Graded aggregate sealing is a process by which asphalt oil is sprayed onto an existing road and covered with a layer of gravel.
Once the set mixture is swept, the result is a hard surfaced road that is expected to last between five and 10 years. Asphalt generally lasts 25 years.
“They are an eyesore and we want our pavement back,” said Stu Dornbierer of Madeira Park. “On a practical level, the treatment has done little or nothing to fill in the potholes.”
Another resident of Madeira Park, Cindy Cameron, said the roadwork took her by surprise.
As a chronic asthma sufferer, she said the dust from the gravelling had aggravated her symptoms.
“We had our driveway paved to avoid this problem. Is it not logical that an improvement to our roads would make them better than before? We still have the potholes and now we have the dust,” she said.
According to Capilano Highways executive assistant Julia Lunny, the gravel applied to the asphalt oil mixture helps compact the surface and rings in at 10 per cent of the cost of new asphalt.
Small dips and bumps in the road surface are usually evened out by the process, once the gravel is swept aside and cleaned up.
“Anything larger that would really need to be graded, it’s not going to fix that, not like paving will unfortunately,” she said. “It does really help the road at the end of the day. We will be coming back starting next week or the week after to clear out the ditches and the sides of the roads.”
Portions of Warnock, Cochrane, Rutherford, Dubois and Canoe roads were set to be chip-sealed.
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) public affairs officer Kate Trotter said the chosen roads were prioritized based on their condition.
“Approximately 12 per cent of the roads covered were hot-mix asphalt,” she said. “The remaining roads seal-coated were either previously seal-coat roads, gravel or old cold-mix roads.”
But several residents are not sold on the cheaper road surfaces, like Garry Ehman, who worries they could be a discomfort for walking seniors.
“My main concern is really going from a paved road to a gravel road,” he added. “It was paved when we bought and we’re paying taxes on it as if it’s paved.
“I told them I would go and lay on my street rather than let them do mine,” he said.