Good news on Smith bridge replacement…maybe

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

After being called in to the Minister of Transportation’s office on Feb. 28, the M.D. of Lesser Slave River reeve and deputy reeve were then sworn to secrecy. Don’t say anything about this until we make the announcement on March 9, said Minister Devin Dreeshen.

“We’re smiling,” was all reeve Murray Kerik would say about it.

Come last Thursday, The Leader was holding this spot on the front page for the good news. But there was no announcement. Apparently the minister’s office had gotten distracted, or was too busy, or had forgotten about it.

However, from the clues Kerik let slip, the news on bridge replacement funding at that Feb. 28 meeting must have been encouraging.

“It’s just a start,” Kerik told The Leader. “But I don’t see how they can back away from it now.”

The bridge is very old and showing it. The M.D. had to spend several h undred thousand dollars this winter shoring up one of the support pillars and more such expense is expected.

Failure of the bridge would be a hard blow to the community, and the M.D. has been lobbying hard to get the province to commit to replacing it.

The positive (but as of press time still unofficial) news given to the M.D. suggests that lobbying had some effect.

No mention of the bridge was in the initial provincial budget announcement. Under the ‘Regional Highlights’ for Northern Alberta on the budget page on, six spending items are mentioned.

Not one of the three transportation infrastructure items on there is anywhere near the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

The Vinca Bridge on Hwy. 38, south of Redwater, is the only bridge project, at $60 million over three years.

The other two are highway twinning projects – one north of Fort McMurray and the other one south of Grande Prairie.

In other news from the M.D….. work commenced last week on removing the remnants of the old Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery dock from out of the lake.

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