October 18, 2012
Barnes and Saskiw call for deadline on Highway 63 twinning in report
EDMONTON, AB (October 18, 2012): A report drafted by Wildrose MLAs Shayne Saskiw and Drew Barnes and sent today to Transportation Minister Ric McIver calls on the Redford government to commit to a hard timeline for the twinning of Highway 63 and the immediate disclosure of an infrastructure priority list.
Saskiw and Barnes compiled the report, called Getting it Done: An on-the-ground look at twinning and improving safety on Highway 63 after touring Highways 63 and 881 and meeting with community stakeholders in August. Its recommendations reflect feedback Saskiw and Barnes heard during their two-day tour. The attached letter from the entire Wildrose Official Opposition was signed by all members of the Caucus supporting the key recommendations of the report to twin Highway 63. Wildrose Infrastructure and Transportation Critic Drew Barnes said that Albertans are tired of the same old government micro-announcements and photo ops – like the one planned for tomorrow – and that it’s time to take action to put the safety of Albertans first on Highway 63. “Shayne and Drew heard from communities and local officials along Highway 63 that it’s time for leadership and action on setting a firm timeline on this project to finally get things done,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. “Albertans have already waited six years and have seen only minimal progress on this crucial highway. Albertans expect a funding commitment and a completion date, not a new round of consultations and more photo ops.” The twinning of Highway 63 was promised by the PC government in 2006. However, only 18 kilometres of the critical transportation corridor have been completed. Despite a number of recent announcements the government has repeatedly failed to set a concrete deadline for completion of the project. Highlights from the Highway 63 tour included meetings with the Lac La Biche Chamber of Commerce, members of Lac La Biche County Council, Plamondon First Responders, Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake, the Oilsands Developers Group, the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce, community advocates, and numerous concerned northern residents. Barnes said the lack of clarity on when Highway 63 will be twinned reflects a bigger problem in how the government deals with infrastructure projects. “It’s time that the PC government release a transparent, detailed public infrastructure priority list with expected timelines and associated costs, so Albertans can know what and when provincial infrastructure projects will be completed for their communities,” Barnes said. The report also emphasized the provincial, national and global importance of Highway 63 as a two-way transportation corridor of people, goods and services. “The region served by Highway 63 is the economic engine of our province. The effectiveness and safety of Highway 63 is critical for all of Alberta and our economic partners,” Saskiw said. “This government spends billions on corporate welfare, perks for insiders and new offices for MLAs. They waste money on eyebrow-raisers like films that attack the oil sands or hosting the Bachelorette in Edmonton instead of committing infrastructure dollars to a critical project that impacts our whole province.” The report is available here: http://archive.wildrose.ca/media/2012/10/GETTING%20IT%20DONE-%20Saskiw%20and%20Barnes%20Highway%2063%20Report.pdf