People often get fixated on competition to a fault. They'll follow an election intently, but tune out of politics the moment it's over; or watch a reality show where the top prize will enable competitors to pursue their dreams, yet never bother to see how those dreams turn out.
It makes sense. That initial staged competition makes for a far more entertaining pursuit than whatever real-world trials come after it. But when a fun competition never actually brings about the things that it promised, that's a problem.
CAA Quebec's 2017 Worst Roads competition seems to fit that billing perfectly. Despite shining a spotlight on road issues in a notoriously road-challenged province, it has failed to produce any meaningful change. Nor are there signs of any on the horizon.
When the competition took place back in May, it ended up crowning Grenville's Chemin Kilmar as the province's worst road. Repairing Chemin Kilmar to a point of satisfaction would cost an estimated $20-million; yet Quebec has budgeted just $4.5-million to fix all of the roads that finished in the top 10. The voices in the resident-voted competition are not being heard.
"As we compiled the results of the 2017 Worst Roadscampaign, half of the municipalities listed in the rankings literally issued a cry from the heart, feeling powerless in the face of the deterioration of their roads, whose maintenance is their responsibility," said Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. "Although aware of the public's expectations and mindful of the impacts of the bad road conditions, they say their hands are tied by the lack of funds available for improvement."
Those hands have apparently been tied for almost two-and-a-half decades. Quebec's publicly funded Programme d'aide à l'entretien du réseau routier local(local road network maintenance assistance program) has not increased its contributions since 1993! Seeing that, it's no wonder Quebec has been so off-the-ball in responding to this year's CAA campaign. Even baby steps would constitute an improvement at this point.