Highway improvements hit a bump on the road

Paving a graveled section of Hilliard’s Bay Road is not a funding priority for the provincial government. Big Lakes County has requested the government fund the project to upgrade the road that leads to the government-owned Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Requests from Big Lakes County for provincial funding support for paving and water projects appear to be going nowhere.

A letter to Reeve Richard Simard from Transportation Minister Ric McIver explains funding for local projects is not a priority.

It’s not the response from the government the county wished for.

“They’re not really willing to do anything,” Simard says.

“They keep saying they have no money.”

Now it seems the projects will be delayed further.

“We need funding to be able to do it,” Simard says.

Council representatives shared funding priorities with McIver for about 30 meetings at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta fall convention Nov. 12-15, Simard says.

Funding to upgrade a road leading to Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park is not in the books for the government.

“Capital improvements to Hilliard’s Bay Road, which are the responsibility of the county, are eligible for funding under the Local Municipal Initiative of the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program,” McIver writes in a Jan. 16 letter.

“Although this grant program is heavily oversubscribed, the project will be considered along with other STIP submissions from across the province.”

For the past several years, the county has requested funding for the road to the province-owned provincial park.

Simard says many highways in the region are deteriorating and urges government to get a plan in place to upgrade the roads before they become more costly over time.

Big Lakes representatives also pushed for funding for projects to expand rural water distribution.

“Unfortunately, projects that are not eligible for provincial funding within existing programs are not being endorsed for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program,” McIver says.

However, he suggests the county may get some support.

“To access federal funding, it may be possible for the county to use its Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding as the provincial contribution when applying for ICIP funding,” McIver says.

Requests to repave Highway 749 also got ditched.

“An overlay of this highway is not in the current capital plan,” McIver says.

“As noted at the meeting, as part of the Highway 2A overlay, paver patches will be completed in 2020 as the most distressed locations on Highway 749.”

He says the government is progressing on another request from the county to improve the intersection of Highway 749 at Township Road 740 [Gilwood Road].

“As discussed in our meeting, Alberta Transportation will undertake a review of the intersection,” McIver says.

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