Plea to pave road into Hilliard’s Bay region renewed

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Paving a road leading to Hilliard’s Bay Provincial Park and the nearby growing Hilliard’s Bay Estates community remains a priority for Big Lakes County.
At its regular meeting Jan. 26, the new council learned about the issue from the Hilliard’s Bay Estates Condominium Association.
“Pavement is necessary,” says Guy Mathieu, who chairs the paving committee and spoke to council as a delegation.
“We’ve come to a point where it’s urgent.
“We need something to happen.”
For about 10 years, he says, the association and Big Lakes have discussed the issue and lobbied the government for funding to pave about 5.5 km of gravel on Township Road 752A, also known as Hilliard’s Bay Road.
Mathieu wonders why the government hasn’t funded a project to pave the road.
“It’s really a mystery,” Mathieu says.
Hilliard’s Bay Estates is located on the east side of the provincial park.
Mathieu says 141 lots have been sold and a growing number of owners are making it their year-round residence.
Reeve Robert Nygaard says council supports the push to get government funding to upgrade the road.
“We are working on trying to get some money to pave the road,” he says.
Two councillors also wonder why the government hasn’t supported local requests for funding to upgrade the road.
“They should really chip in,” South Sunset House – Gilwood Countcillor Ann Stewart says.
“I don’t understand why the road hasn’t been paved either,” adds Kinuso Councillor Roberta Hunt.
Council is also working with nearby Shaw’s Point Resort to pave a 1.5-km stretch of Range Road 141 that leads to the popular resort. Council continues to lobby the government for funding for that road.
Resort co-owner Ryan Herben has also discussed the issue with council for several years.
“Our biggest problem is the road conditions,” Mathieu says.
“Road conditions is one the reasons we want the road paved.”
A red clay on the road creates dust on hot dry days and mud in wet conditions and covers vehicles and travel trailers that drive to the holiday parks and to Hilliard’s Bay Estates, he says.
“It’s difficult to clean off,” Mathieu says.
Former Falher-area MLA and tourism and parks minister Hector Goudreau accompanied Mathieu as a property owner. He says residents are frustrated by the poor road that is also turning away tourists from the local parks.
“Many people have told me they will not come back because of the poor road conditions,” says Goudreau who served as the minister of tourism, parks, recreation and culture from December 2006 to March 2008.
“It only hurts the county and the broader community.”
As the former minister, he appreciates the area around the provincial park.
“We have one of the nicest provincial parks in the province,” says Goudreau, who served as MLA for Dunvegan – Central Peace from November 2004 to May 2015.
He urged council to again contact Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon to discuss the issue.
CAO Jordan Panasiuk says the County has applied to for funding from the provincial Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program [STIP].
“This is a big piece of our advocacy,” Panasiuk says.
STIP provides funding to municipalities to develop and maintain transportation infrastructure.

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