Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dear Alberta Conservatives, all I ask is that you keep just one election promise and twin Highway 63

In light of the recent tragedy on Highway 63 I feel compelled to express my deepest concern for your complete ineptitude with twinning the highway.   I travel Highway 63 every day to and from work and on occasion to Edmonton as well.  I consider myself blessed that I avoided serious incidents on this roadway.  Sadly, this past Friday 7 people were not so lucky and become more statistics of the so-called "Highway of Death" and a government that has a funny way of showing it has its citizens' best interests in mind.

Fort McMurray plays a vital role in the economy of not just Alberta but Canada as a whole.  The city continues to grow a rapid pace and will only get bigger and the traffic will only become more congested in the future.   Why then are we connected to the rest of the province by a mere two-lane highway?  Your government announced that the twinning of the highway would be a priority and yet to date, only a measly few kilometres have been completed.

To be blunt, this is pathetic.  Between 2001 and 2005 there were over 1000 vehicle collisions resulting in 25 fatalities and 257 injuries.  In 2006 you announced that twinning of the highway would be a priority, probably because you were facing an election in 2008 would be my guess, and major infrastructure projects are always a good way to attract votes.  As of 2009, a measly 16 km had been completed and according to the information I've seen, you plan to have another 36 km complete by 2013.  Again, sad.

During the most recent election campaign we saw assurances that, once again, twinning Highway 63 would be a priority.  Forgive me for being a little cynical but I can smell bullshit when I see it.  The truth is that people here are growing tired....tired of an endless charade of excuses and red tape from getting the land freed up, to concerns over caribou to having the budget for it.  I find this last one funny.  The province gets something like $5 BILLION in royalties from oil and gas.  Media sources I've seen report it would cost $1.1 billion to finish the highway.  The money is there.  Don't tell us it isn't.  You just spend it like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave.  (My apologies to sailors)

Dear Alberta Conservatives - you have been given a new mandate that frankly I don't think you deserve.  I find it particularly sad that the party responsible for the lack of action in recent years on this vital piece of infrastructure has again been voted back in to power.  Please, do your job and finish what you promised to do.  Twin Highway 63.  Fort McMurrayites are concerned, frustrated and DEMAND action.  Fortunately for your sake I maintain, through sheer grit, a modicum of decorum which prevents me from explaining how I really feel about this truly despicable situation.

The voices of the victims cry out.  Keep your promise.  I don't want this to be a promise in the 2015 election.  I want to see it dealt with.  PLEASE, do the right thing.  Twin Highway 63 now.

 Darcy Steele

A passionate resident and supporter of Fort McMurray


ChipsReid said...

Thank you Darcy.

It is crystal clear from your thoughtful and passionate message that the PC government has failed the people of Fort McMurray and, in fact, the people of Alberta and Canada. They failed to twin the Hwy because the oil companies need it most of every day to get people and machinery to and from the BITUMEN operations that they are exploiting. They use our precious Natural Gas ( clean burning) to fuel the boilers to steam the tear sand. the exploit e refined product called diluent which arrives by pipeline to dilute the Tar sand so it can be pumped.And now they pump the diluted raw bitumen OVERSEAS . They want the XL pipeline and the Gateway Pipeline or else it will stay in the ground they say. I say GOOD. We want a ROYALTY on BITUMEN if you ship it overseas otherwise leave it there. by 2015 3 million barrels of Bitumen will be produced ,they hope. We would like to charge a royalty on all of it which on average would be $ 2 per barrel. In view of this revenue we can expect to start paying contractors NOW to twin hwy 63. We can do so much with our money from Bitumen. we can put $1 billion (say) per year in to the Alberta Heritage savings Trust Fund to grow and grow and grow and not to be spent like they have spent their revenue to date. Note they is a royalty NOT on oil and Gas only OVERSEAS EXPORTED BITUMEN. Processing it here will be fine as we need to move workers to build processing plants and slow down the extraction of the raw bitumen. This will give the infrastructure in and around Fort mac to catch up.

ChipsReid said...

I wrote a long comment already but this being my first time it has DISSappeared! I shall try to write one later now that i know how to get blogging.

ChipsReid said...

Last line should read:
This will give the infrastructure paid for with public funds in and around Fort mac including the highway to catch up. Right?

tonyguitar said...

This is a very refreshing and thinking blog. Looking through here Darcy, I find that our views are similar. Am also a bird photog.

Double surprise.. Your friend Chip Ried says: "NOT on oil and Gas only OVERSEAS EXPORTED BITUMEN. Processing it here will be fine as we need to move workers to build processing plants and slow down the extraction of the raw bitumen. This will give the infrastructure in and around Fort mac to catch up. "

Excellent insight Chris.

I lived in Calgary Alberta years ago. Worked in Civil Land Survey. I like Albertans and the province. However now live on Vancouver Island.

My views are provocative and could anger Albertans, but be assured a deeper thinker will understand no offense is intended. Am loyal to all of Canada, Alberta included.

As there seems to be no email listed and you can set my views aside, keeping them out of comments, I will list them here.

I realize you are working long hours. Don't let this weigh you down. Consider these ideas or ignore them as you wish. These are less than informed views of a BC person who is annoyed that oilsands bitumen is a too simple black and white question in the media. TonyG a fellow bird photog.