Compensation for Highway Detours

Res #: 22-13M
Number: 22
Year: 2013
Midterm: Yes
Expired: No
Responses Received: No

WHEREAS highway flooding has been a regular occurrence due to the high water table, well above normal snow pack and greater than normal levels of precipitation over the last number of years; and,

WHEREAS this flooding has caused highway traffic to detours on RM roads, either designated or not designated as detours; and

WHEREAS the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (MHI) has a draft compensation format that is being used by the Regional Office to compensate RMs even though the MHI has not negotiated this compensation with SARM; and

WHEREAS there are significant problems with the compensation formula, notably the formula does not take into consideration the state of the RM (declared disaster and / or emergency), a timeline to reset the formula (the compensation is the same for two weeks as for two months), the need for dust control for residential / commercial areas, the Water Security Agency’s prediction for spring run off potential, recognition of damages to roads related to the type of traffic, increased public safety concerns (lack of highway Traffic supervision, road incapacitated due to the type of traffic on them to the point that emergency vehicles cannot pass on them), or seasonal conditions of roads;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM negotiate a policy framework with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (MHI) to address compensation for RM roads used in official and unofficial detours when diversion from provincial highways occurs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this negotiation policy framework address the following:  the state of the RM in terms of declaration of disaster / emergency; a timeline to reset the compensation formula based on the MHI traffic counts; other costs including gravel, dust control, signage, additional equipment for service provision to that road; services of highway traffic staff to survey over weight vehicles; assistance to address seasonal conditions related to roads; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that sixty percent of said compensation be paid to the RM within the first fifteen days of the highway being compromised and the remainder within 10 days of the termination of the detour; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that compensation rates should be reviewed and revised annually between the MHI and SARM; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM get assurances from the Provincial Government that this compensation is not coming out of the MHI’s Regional Offices’ maintenance budgets, which is seen to be a barrier to the compensation.

Response from Honourable Don McMorris, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure

The Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure appreciates how important the rural municipal (RM) road system is to municipalities as well as the province.  Recent flooding disasters and above average rain and snowfall have caused an increase in flood related damages to roadways, and as a result, has caused an increased amount of detours on RM roads because of temporary highway closures.  These detours have the potential to cause severe damage to municipal roads, and the costs to repair these damages can be significant.

The Ministry had previously developed a one-time compensation formula to help address the damages caused by unofficial traffic diversions as a result of the flooding that took place in 2011.  This was, however, a one-time payment formula, and was geared towards the particular circumstances that resulted from the flooding of 2011. Generally, the feedback from RMs who received compensation as a result of this formula was very positive.  This formula was not solely based on amount of time the detour lasted, but also considered the truck and average traffic volumes the detour experienced throughout the duration of the closure.

My Ministry is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive policy to address these types of closures and the damages caused as a result of the ensuing detours through municipalities.  This policy will take into consideration length of detour, truck and traffic volumes, duration of the detour, road condition prior to the detour, and a variety of other variables to properly inform the level of compensation to a municipality for road damages.

A consultant has been engaged to undertake some of this work.  When the work is complete, the Ministry will be better positioned to assess the requirements of this compensation policy.

My Ministry officials will also consult with your association during the policy development process, to help ensure appropriate input and feedback is considered.

View updated response dated August 17, 2017 from the Ministry of Highways