It was almost 35 years ago on July 23, 1983 when the Government of Alberta made the citizens of our fine area a promise.
Alberta Recreation and Parks Minister Peter Trynchy attended the grand opening of Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park. The park had already been open for four years so being a little late didn’t bother the government bean counters in Edmonton one little bit. Local MLA Larry Shaben must have used a crowbar to pry open the wallets in Edmonton to spend a few bucks here for a celebration.
Anyway, it is interesting to note that in the South Peace News report of July 27, 1983, Trynchy is reported as saying, “one of his department’s priorities will be the completion of a paved road right through the park to its day-use area.” [Paraphrased quote]
Trynchy made the quote only after driving across a very bumpy road into the park. Apparently, he forgot to bring a pillow to soften the blow on his butt from those goat paths we travel in northern Alberta. He was so used to those smooth highways near Edmonton.
In fairness, Trynchy added he couldn’t promise the paved road right away, but he would have department staff get working on the problem “right away!”
I can practically hear people running to the washroom after wetting themselves from hysterical laughter.
Or, is it crying?
We can say one thing about Trynchy. He was right when he said he couldn’t promise a paved road right away! It hurts, but not as much as the bills from broken vehicle parts after smashing and crashing their way over the road for 35 years.
We all know politicians of every stripe make statements and/or promises that aren’t kept but this one deserves a little more than passing comment.
Since the park was opened, we’ve had an Improvement District advisory council, M.D. of Big Lakes council and Big Lakes County council. We’ve had only two more MLAs with Pearl Calahasen serving 26 years. Calahasen, despite her many accomplishments, was from Grouard and couldn’t get the job done.
Not getting the job done certainly hasn’t been the fault of local councils. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the municipal councils lobby for the project, write letters and complaint to the local MLA.
And the owners of Shaw’s Point Resort have added their voice to the local effort so it’s difficult to understand how this project has hit the government’s “missed” list for 35 years.
Back in 1989, Peace River MLA Al Adair promised to pave all secondary roads in Alberta within 10 years. Council tried to get the road into Hilliard’s Bay designated a secondary highway but no such luck. Council would have had better luck trying to convince councillor Bert Dube to vote Conservative.
What is difficult to understand is that Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park and Shaw’s Point Resort are not your rinky-dink parks. These are major parks with hundreds of camping stalls, large day-use facilities and marinas and/or boat launches. Thousands of people visit each week.
Now, we have a thriving Hilliard’s Bay Estates development adding to the road’s usage.
I have no idea what has to be done to convince the mucky-mucks in Edmonton to pave the entire road through the park to Hilliard’s Bay Estates. I do know, however, that it had not been from lack of trying.