Cumberland House, Sask. declares state of emergency as road conditions collapse

Highway 123 is the only road in or out of the Cumberland House community. Courtesy of Veronica Favel

The northern village of Cumberland House, Sask., has declared a state of emergency as weather continues to degrade already poor road conditions.

Highway 123 is the only road going in and out of the village located more than 440 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.

Locals describe the road conditions as 97 kilometres of potholes and ruts capable of breaking your vehicle.

“It’s only accessible for people with four-by-four vehicles,” Cumberland House mayor Ferlin McKay said. “The only way I could describe it is it is the ugliest road I have seen.”

With recent rainfall, food security is becoming an issue as road conditions cut off delivery access.

The community will begin flying in groceries. Courtesy of Veronica Favel

The community estimates they have only a two-week supply of fuel left at their local store.

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“We are running out of things in our community,” McKay said. “They are going to have to start flying in groceries to the community.”

Store shelves are becoming bare as road conditions worsen. Courtesy of Veronica Favel

Leadership in the area is calling on the province to help with a long-term solution.

“We need to sit down, and they need to listen to us,” Veronica Favel, Cumberland House deputy mayor said. “They need to listen to the people that drive on that highway on a daily basis because we’re the ones that are feeling the effects of it.”

“I have asked about three ministers over the last seven years to do something about our highway,” McKay echoed. “It falls on deaf ears.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province will work with the community on any immediate fixes that could happen before looking at more long-term solutions.

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“There’s more work to do and I think there’s more reason for us to continue to look at the level of funding that we have in our highways budget and continue to look at increasing it, not cutting it,” Moe said on Thursday.

Cumberland House leadership says the road needs to be built up for proper drainage. Courtesy of Veronica Favel

Moe said discussions with the Ministry of Highways indicated a plan to spend $3.3 million this summer on repairs to the road.

McKay hopes the help comes sooner rather than later.

“We need our highway to be improved,” he said. “We need to build up a proper drainage system and more gravel on the road. Hopefully, our government will help us.”

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