Highway 55 lobbying effort moving in positive direction

NIPAWIN — An effort to upgrade the gravel road between Nipawin and The Pas, Man. to a year-round, maintained primary road is seeing progress.

The Gateway Keewatin Corridor Inc. is lobbying for improvements the northern highway system to better link Northern Alberta to the Port of Churchill. The highway between Nipawin and The Pas is a key part of that effort.

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The group held their annual meeting in to inform stakeholders and the public about the current state of their lobbying efforts April 8, hosted by the Nipawin Chamber of Commerce

“We got two or three new bridges built in place. We’ve made progress with the Manitoba government in terms of meeting with them,” said Len Gluska, president of Gateway Keewatin. “I have the confidence they see the importance of that road on the Manitoba side.”

On the Saskatchewan side, Gluska said they had an excellent discussion with the highways minister at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention on Nov. 15.

“We left with understanding that we will be moving forward on this. It wasn’t two weeks later that we got a request from the director of highways if we could solicit some letters of support from stakeholders because the Saskatchewan department of highways was putting in a request for funding under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund from the [federal] government.”

Gateway Keewatin acquired 42 letters to submit to the minister.

The lobbying group is hoping to have the road ready for transporting goods and tourists by 2021. If it doesn’t happen by then, their plan is to regroup and continue to lobby.

Gluska said the road has to support trucks with a 62,500-kilogram load and it has to be dust free.

“That will bring the economics up to where it should be and it will get a life of its own.”

Gluska said the Gateway Keewatin has been meeting with the provincial highway ministries since 2006 on a regular basis.     

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