Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fowl Shot

Water fowl aren't really my forte when it comes to birding...and not just because of my lack of exposure to them. It's not very often that I get to see buffleheads but I did this past weekend.  A few small beaver ponds yielded up some good specimens, among them a couple mallards and a bufflehead.  I spent a good half hour observed them through my binoculars.  It wasn't until after I had left and was walking backing to the house that it dawned on me that I could have taken a photo.  Ah well, the zoom on my camera is horrible and they were likely too far away, I consoled myself.

Now as luck would have it, I passed another marsh area on the way home and I spotted another bufflehead (a pair actually).  Apparently I wasn't holding the camera as steadily as I thought as this photo clearly demonstrates.

....and of course, they both just HAD to fly off as soon as I had taken the photo.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Dug Some Bachs Out Of A Box In My Closet



A couple weeks ago while digging around in a closet I came across a CD I had apparently ordered some time ago but had never opened....shocking.   I opened it up and was pleasantly surprised to find a 3-CD collection of vocal music by various members of the Bach family, Johann Sebastian, being the most well-known of course. Other than J.S. Bach, the only other Bach I have any music from is Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, 2nd oldest son of Johann. CPE was, other than his father, the only Bach whose rep didn't soon fade away after his death. (Mozart held both JS Bach and son Carl in high esteem.)

Anyhow, this little collection spans early baroque to classical. It's all a confusing array of names....Johann Christian, Johann Christoph, Johann Christian Friedrich. Good music though from a family who produced so many composers and musicians.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hanging Out At The Hangingstone

While the Athabasca is the most well-known of the rivers within city limits, there are 4 others as well.  The Clearwater and The Snye have been mentioned a few times on this blog and the Horse River I hiked along last summer.  That leaves one remaining river I had not explored...until today...the Hangingstone.   My appetite for adventure had been whetted in recent days having seen posts from a couple of local bloggers who had recently visited this area -- Middle Age Bulge, who had explored the Horse River valley behind Abasand and Two Loonies and a Penny who had a couple photos up on their blog of the Hangingstone River.  From looking at their blog, this is an area they go to frequently (or at least much more frequently than me) so I was both a tad envious and rearing to check it out for myself.

 The river begins at a small lake roughly 40km (29 miles) south of town as the crow flies  and meanders north toward town. It cuts between Beacon Hill and Abasand where it almost connects into the Horse River.  The two rivers come to within a half kilometer of each other at their closest points.  The river then veers  to the west and feeds into the Clearwater down at Waterways. The river has been known as the Hangingstone since at least as far back as 1912.  The name comes from a prominent rock face hanging out over the edge of the river bank.

...And so this morning I hopped a bus across town and headed out.

One of my first glimpses of the Hangingstone.

 I followed a trail which hugged the river bank, enjoying the warmth of the day and snapping photos both up and downstream.



 Looking up at one of the many steep banks carved by the river as it meanders along its course.  The bank is actually quite unstable and many times I saw and heard falling rocks and clumps of dirt tumbling down the embankment after coming dislodged.  If I'm not mistaken this is the cliff face for which the river is named though there are many others like it.
 I chose a quiet spot along the bank for a quick lunch.  This rock made a great stopping place.  It was a great spot to grab a quick bite, the quiet disturbed only by the sounds of the rushing water and a symphony of bird song.
 I found many signs of bitumen along the way.



More evidence of the "black gold" slowly rising to the surface.

A little further along, the trail began to climb sharply up the embankment.  It was a steep and breath-taking climb.  You can see the trail to the right here.  Some nibble footwork prevented me from a nasty tumble.  It must have been a good 100 foot drop to the river bed below.

The effort was well worth it as I got some great views as I climbed steadily higher out of the valley.




This bench must have known I was looking for it and I stopped briefly to catch my breathe.
...and take in the scenery.......
A view of downtown in the distance.
After reaching the top of the embankment, the trail veered off in many directions.  I kept taking the trail the left and ended up skirting the edge of the valley.  Below is the embankment I had rested on early.  I could even make the bench out in the distance though it's pretty much impossible to see in the photo I took.
Awhile later the trail I was on led to some sort of logging road which travels a high point close to where the Hangingstone and Horse Rivers come very close to meeting up.  I didn't realize the existence of this road before I stumbled along it.  Heading in the opposite direction would have led me straight down to the Horse River, just a little upstream from where I had explored last summer.  Below are a couple of shots of the Horse River valley and the cut line.

From this rutty road, I reluctantly headed back up toward Abasand, the terminus of my hike.  One thing I discovered is that the area back there is much bigger than I realized.  Try as I might I knew I wouldn't be able to fit it all in to one outing.

...and I'm glad I can't because frankly, I can't wait to get back there and explore some more.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Valley Views and Beaver Dams

With the weather being ever so inviting I headed out for a short hike late this morning. I wasn't really sure where I was going to go, only that I just couldn't while away the day indoors. I decided to head back to a trail I had hiked a couple of years ago, the Little Fisheries Trail, though I didn't know its name then. The trail ends at the far end of Thickwood where it hits a road leading down to a golf course along the river.

When I first walked this trail, I headed back after hitting this road.  This time, I decided to head across to the other side, walk up a steep hill and continue on.  I'm glad I did, as I was rewarded with some nice views of the valley.

The steep sandy embankments along the valley brought back childhood memories growing up around Collingwood, Ontario.

After awhile, the trail veered sharply away from the valley and followed a gully which continued to narrow the further it went back from the main river valley.  I found this small wooden bridge along the way.  The sides were pretty steep but I managed to get down and back okay.  I imagine this would be a great place for mountain biking as I saw a number of board ways down there.
A little further along I came across a marshy area where beavers had made their mark.  There were a number of small ponds there and while I didn't see any beavers, I did see some mallard ducks, a pair of buffleheads and a solitary sandpiper, which played hide and seek with me as they kept their distance across the marsh and kept ducking behind these dams.

It's pretty much impossible to see, but there are mallards back there somewhere.  


I got curious after I returned to the house and went exploring on Google Earth to see exactly where I had gone.  I wasn't able to figure out how a get decent Earth screen shot of the area but the GPS coordinates for the curious are roughly 56 42'34.11"N  111 28'40.55W.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Replacing Old Soles

After a little procrastination I broke down and bought myself a new pair of work boots.  I wouldn't call myself a pack rat by any means but I do tend to hang on to things longer than perhaps I should.  After 18 months though, my old boots had become quite worn and torn, having long outlasted their usefulness (on the job site at least).  I suppose I just became attached to them seeing as I wear them a good 12-13 hours during a work day.  I wish I knew just how many kilometres I've walked in those boots.  I'm sure it's quite  the number.  Alas, the breaking point came a few days ago when a piece of mesh I was handling slipped out of my hands and hit the ground close to my foot.  Looking down I realized that had it hit my foot in certain spots, it wouldn't have felt too comfortable.  Plus, the possibility of a new leadership role at work (not going to spill the beans on that one yet, lest I jinx myself) means that I really should lead by example and have good foot wear.  So off I went this morning for new boots.





True to form. I'll probably hold on to them and give them a second life for outdoor work I do around the house.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Highway 63: Let's Get 'er Done!

I'll start out by apologizing ahead of time if this post becomes a little incoherent.  Work keeping me on the go a good 13 hours a day for the past couple of weeks tends to interfere with rational thought processes.  Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on the latest developments in regard to Highway 63 before my days off arrive in a couple more days and I get to enjoy a bit of sloth for a change.

I mentioned in my last post about the Transportation Minister driving Highway 63 in recent days to get a sense of the "lay of the land" so to speak.  Yesterday, yet another politician arrived here, albeit a rather important one in the form of our Premier.  She pledged to fast-track progress on the highway.  She also announced the appointment of local MLA Mike Allen to the role of "special advisor".  Allen is tasked with looking into ways of speeding up the twinning process and reporting back to the Premier by June 29.  It's encouraging to see that the Premier is addressing this issue and that local efforts to keep this on the front burner appear to be bearing fruit.  Again, time will tell as to how things unfold from here.  I'm not sure why the Premier had to create a fancy title though.  One would think that both our local MLA's would advise the Premier and Minister of Transportation on this matter anyway but I suppose when you are Premier you can do things like dole out fancy titles.  Seeing as how, up to the day he was elected, Allen owned a music shop, I find his appointment a bit bizarre.  (Hey wait, I was quite musical growing up!  I even have a music degree framed on the wall in the living room downstairs!!)

Even  the Transportation Minister admitted to the Globe and Mail, "things are going to get a lot worse between now and the end of 2014."  Well, of course Mr. Minister.  This is what happens when you pledge to complete a job 6 years ago that still isn't finished.  June 29 approaches.  The people here are waiting.  Get to it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alberta Minister Promises More Action On 63

Cudos, I suppose, to our new Transportation Minister for driving Highway 63 for himself this long weekend.  Unlike, say, Paul Watson, who makes a living off bashing the seal hunt yet never had the courage to actually visit Nunavut where I lived for a number of years, to see for himself the economic effects of his actions and words, and unlike Thomas Mulcair, who will mindlessly bash my town during an election campaign to score cheap points yet never actually come here to see that there is much more to this place than just the oil sands, Minister McIver, at least earns himself a modicum of respect for driving the distance.  Of course, as the the CBC reports here, he only drove it in one direction...leaving Fort McMurray, which is in itself pretty telling I think of how our politicians in Edmonton view here.

It all looks just so promising.  But wait......According to the minister the section of 63 from Wandering River south to Highway 55 will be fully twinned in three years.  Judging by my atlas that's perhaps one-fifth of  the section leading to Fort McMurray.  So...assuming the Conservatives actually do what they say (a tall order I know) this means that from 2006 until 2015, about one-fifth of the highway will be twinned.  Sorry, Minister.  Not good enough.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Overpass

Last September I took this photo of the Thickwood overpass which had starting being constructed around the time I moved here.

I had hoped to get back down there after it opened late last year for a follow-up photo to show how things had changed, however, the best-laid plans.... I travel through here pretty much every day I work and a few days when I'm off and have to head downtown. Anyhow, seeing during my last trip downtown I happened to have my camera with me, I thought I'd provide this follow-up photo instead. Looking north-bound up Highway 63. Amazing how the powers that be can find the money to twin this section of the highway and not the section south of the city. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the oil companies wanting their employees to get to work on time.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"A Born God Who Has It All."

I don't normally do many music posts here but in this case I must make an exception. The great German baritone, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, was a familiar figure growing up. He may not be as familiar to most as say, Pavarotti, but he should be. I was saddened to learn of his death yesterday.  He sang the first recordings I ever heard of Beethoven's 9th Symphony along with Schubert's lied 'Der Erlkonig'.  Perhaps his voice lacked the power of others but he was a joy to listen to.  His recording of 'Erlkonig' became for me the standard by which I judged all others.  As a budding musician growing up, he seemed to be one of those people who was around forever.

He sang everything, from Bach to Wagner and I can think of few others who could boast such a wide repertoire.  From opera to lieder to large-scale vocal works, from performing to conducting and teaching, Dieskau did it all and had a remarkable career.  He truly was, in the words of the late Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, "a born god who has it all."

Alas, a great voice falls silent.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Exploring the Forks

Some of the very first photos I took in Fort McMurray were of the forks down at MacDonald Island where the Clearwater feeds into the Athabasca. Since I had some time today and now that flood risks have past I spent an hour this afternoon down at Mac Island taking in the views. It was fairly overcast but other than a few light sprinkles, the rain held off.

Looking downstream from the northern tip of MacDonald Island.


One of the things I love is the sandy rock faces that can be found spread along the course of the river.  The one here is actually  part of Rocke Island around which the Clearwater passes before emptying into the Athabasca River.



Muddy flats between MacDonald Island and Rocke Island.  I imagine this area is much faster flowing during Spring run off.  I was tempted to tiptoe out for a better view but found it just a bit too muddy for the shoes i was wearing.


Evidence that not just humans enjoy all that Mac Island has to offer.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Highway 63.....more than just asphalt.

My apologies that the blog has been a bit quiet here lately.  Work-wise I'm in the middle of an extra long shift so I find myself with little energy at the end of the day.  Plus a little tenant drama, which I may or may not get into later, has been a minor distraction.  At any rate, for the past few days I had been planning another post on the issue of twinning Highway 63 so I best get to it here else I'll my thoughts may just evaporate in this warm spring weather.

I did want to start off by highlighting a couple posts by other Alberta drivers who are familiar with this highway.  Local blog, McMurray Musings, points out here that safety is everyone's responsibility and we must all play our part.  I particularly like her suggestion of taking down license plates of vehicles engaged in dangerous driving.  I'm sure it wouldn't take very many reports of company vehicles being reported before the oil sands companies and their many contractors took a more active roll.  Afterall, Highway 63 isn't just a route to my house but helps make these companies' prosperity possible.   Theresa goes on to write of her own recent experience on the highway as well.

In the aftermath of the most recent tragedy I think many were quick to point out (correctly of course) that people need to slow down and drive more responsibly.  This is only part of the solution.  The other half is the twinning.  Why?  Simply because of the volume of traffic on 63 and the size of the vehicles that drive it.  I'm not sure how many people realize just what travels up here.  I've only lived here a couple years and I've seen and heard of some crazy things.  I've seen heavy equipment and all sorts of huge metal objects destined for the oil sands that I can't even begin to fathom what the heck they were.  There are also a great deal of flatbeds and transport trucks.  Now, going to university in Windsor, Ontario, I saw a great deal of truck traffic, particularly along that stretch of Huron Church Road from the 401 to the Ambassador Bridge.  If you've ever driven this short stretch you know what I'm talking about.  The truck traffic on 63 reminds me very much of what I've seen back in Windsor, the difference of course being that Huron Church Road is a divided 4-lane road and 63 is a mere two lanes until you get within about 20km or so of town.  But don't take my word for it.  Another Alberta blogger, who frequently travels 63 actually recorded the volume and type traffic he experienced during a recent drive.  You can find it here.

So getting down to work on this highway is (or should be) a priority for our new government.   The question is, will it happen?   Not only is there amply reason for the highway to be twinned but the government PROMISED it would happen. Initial indications don't encourage me.  Our new Transportation Ministers hails from way down in Calgary.  I wonder how familiar he is with the highway outside of media reports and an Alberta road map?  According to a recent news item the minister (that would be Ric McIver) stated that the twinning of 63 is just one of many priorities.  Well, Mr. Minister, by definition, all the road projects the province must deal with, can't all priorities at the same time.  I think he is a little confused on what the definition of a priority is, but I digress.

Anyhow, I would encourage everyone interested in this issue to write the Minister and keep this issue on the forefront.  If you haven't already done so, check out Twin63now.ca, for updates, protest ideas and information on this issue.  (I see that they've linked to my blog on their site. (blush))

Premier Redford......Ric McIver, the ball is in your court.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Insanity

Apparently I have developed a local fan base as I received a message from a reader (who reads my blog on her phone on the bus ride to work) reminding me to post soon since I've been a little tardy as of late.  I have good reason for it since work has been a bit hectic. One might even use the word "insane".  This actually had me thinking back to a few days ago, when as I was looking through my music collection I started to realize just how many composers in my little musical library actually did go insane.  It makes for an interesting list.

1.  Robert Schumann was a German composer who, after botching an experiment to improve his manual dexterity by slicing tendons in his hand (mmm...yummy), later went insane, and threw himself into the Rhine River.  He was rescued but died in an asylum.

2.  Alexander Scriabin (don't we all remember him?) apparently went insane too.  He didn't throw himself into a river like dear Robert or make any attempts at suicide that I'm aware of though.  His exit from this world was a lot less dramatic as he died from an infected shaving cut (seriously).

3.  Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer who, though living to the ripe old age of 90 suffered from bouts of depression and destroyed the score of his 8th Symphony by burning it.  Today, only a few scattered fragments remain.

4.  Bedrich Smetana, considered the father of Czech romantic music, got a double whammy as he went both deaf and insane.

5.  Antonio Salieri, went insane in old age and raved about how he had killed Mozart.  This led to a play by Pushkin, and a 1979 play by Peter Shaffer which in turned served as the basis for the 1984 award-winning movie "Amadeus".  Salieri's rep took quite a knock as a result of this and really muddied the waters when it came to understanding the relationship between the two.

6.  Eric Satie was rather reclusive and a pack rat to boot.  After he died they found his home full of umbrellas that he evidently never used.

7.  Alessandro Stradella is a little-known Italian composer, known more today for his many love affairs than his music.  Now, Stradella didn't go insane BUT he was killed by hired assassins after having extra-curricular activities with the daughter of a certain nobleman.  Now, that's nuts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A New Visitor

Initially I planned to do a quick post just to show my birding list for the year so far since I spotted my first Brewer's Blackbird at work late this afternoon, but then a new visitor showed up in the backyard this evening as the light was beginning to fade so now I suppose I can write about both.

I had just stepped out onto the back deck to enjoy the cook breeze when I noticed a couple birds in the tree.  In and of itself this is no big deal since there are a few that don't automatically take flight, Red polls especially.  But the red polls are gone now and this was something new.  I figured pretty quickly they were some sort of warbler and I got a decent look in the fading light before I spooked them and they made a beeline for a pine tree a couple yards down.

I found myself wishing I had my binoculars with me and raced up to grab them along with a guidebook.  I spent a few minutes looking out the back window but they didn't return.  No doubt my excitement and my rushing up and down the stairs provided a few moments of amusement to a couple of my tenants.  At any rate, it turns out my two little visitors were Orange-crowned warblers or at least if they weren't I'm not really sure what else they could be.  Their yellow colour was much more muted than other similar-looking birds in my guidebook and I did get a pretty good look.

I recently commented on Clare's blog about how I've had my open for King fishers and Red-breasted nut hatches since I love to be able to add them to my life list but just haven't seen them yet despite the fact that they are rather common here.  Interesting how the ones you hope to see elude you and then you end up seeing something completely unexpected instead.  But this is something birding that appeals to me.

Here then, too is my updated 2012 bird list (in more or less chronological rather than taxonomic order....I am a student of history after all), since it's been about a month since the last update.  I'm almost up to 20 on my list, a modest number I know but it's still early so I'm sure it will grow.

1.  Common Raven (over-winter)
2.  Black-billed Magpie (over-winter)
3.  Evening Grosbeak (over-winter)
4.  Pine Grosbeak (over-winter)
5.  Bohemian Waxwing (over-winter)
6.  Black-capped Chickadee (over-winter)
7. Common Red Poll (over-winter)
8. Downy Woodpecker - March 27
9. Slate-Coloured Junco  - April 5
10. House Sparrow - April 6-10?
11. Herring Gull - April 10
12. Canada Goose - April 15
13. Chipping Sparrow - April 18
14.  Rock Dove - April 20
15. Tree Swallow - April 20
16. Red-Winged Blackbird - April 21
17. American Robin - April 24
18. Brewer's Blackbird - May 9
19. Orange-crowned Warbler - May 9

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cairns

A couple weeks ago while I was poking around down at the Snye, I came across a cairn denoting one end of the Methye Portage, an old transportation route linking the Athabasca River to Lac La Loche, across the border in Saskatchewan via the Clearwater.  After posting a photo of the cairn on my blog here, on commenter mentioned that this was one of three such cairns, dating from the 1930's.  Another important cairn (pictured below) can be found just inside the treeline at the edge of the parking lot at MacDonald Island.  It commemorates the signing of Treaty 8 on August 4, 1899.  A third cairn, which is a little more tricky to get to can be found a few hundred kilometres north in the community of Fort Chipewyan.

(Below: Methye Portage cairn photo taken back in March.  It commemorates Peter Pond, the first European to reach the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers in 1778.)

I was also to learn that this is not the original spot for the Methye Cairn as it has been moved a couple of times.    Five years ago this week past week as it turns out, the cairn was moved to this spot from Franklin Avenue.  It's original position was outside the Old Peter Pond School on Haineault where the Superstore now stands.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Twin Highway 63!

In some ways, today was just like any other spring day, clear and sunny with a slight breeze. In many ways though, it wasn't, as many people gathered at MacDonald Island for a rally to make our voices heard. Highway 63 has been earned the moniker "Highway of Death" and in light of last weeks tragedy, community members gathered to be counted, to raise their voices, to let the provincial powers that be that Highway 63 must be twinned. The time for waiting and the time for talk is over.

While I took my camera and notepad along and was writing furiously at times, it all seems quite a blur so rather than try to decipher my penmanship, I've decided to more or less "go with the flow"and write from the heart as it seems more important to get the message out rather than narrate a minute-by-minute recollection.  Having said that, certain moments do stick out in my mind.

 A convoy of Diversified buses (one for each victim) left the Casman Centre bringing in people to attend the protest. 28-year-old Courtney Penney, who was 6 months pregnant with her first child, worked in Diversified's HR department and was tragically killed. Her husband Mark, was one of but two survivors. If any company had first-hand knowledge of the dangers of Highway 63, it would be Diversified Transportation. They are the company contracted to provide busing for oil sands employees from Fort McMurray to the different sites, including Suncor, Syncrude and Albian Sands. I travel daily on Diversified to and from work, fortunately on the (very small) section of the highway that has been twinned. This tragedy has touched the community in many ways but it extends beyond Fort McMurray. One young victim Faith Kondusky-Sennett was originally from St. Catherines and had moved with her family to Calgary. Miraculously she was pulled alive from the wreckage by passer-by Dion Lefebvre. Tragically, later died in hospital. Faith was 11 years old. Another victim, John Schroeder, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, where I lived and attended university in the '90's. I knew the area he grew up very well and went to university with more than a few graduates of his high school in Riverside. Schoeder, like many Windsorites I've known, gave back to his community by volunteering at a retirement home in Calgary. The youngest victim was 2-year-old Ben Wheaton, only a few months older than my own son. Both his parents died along with him. Amazingly, his 3-year-old brother Timothy survived. His father, Shannon was a pastor at a local church in Dickensfield, a mere 5 minutes from my house. A work acquaintance of mine knew Shannon a little from back in Newfoundland and told me how his "biker look" masked a caring man, passionate about his family and his church.

The Diversified convoy lined up prior to leaving for Mac Island.

 

Even before arriving me encountered our first group of supporters outside a church on Thickwood.  It was an encouraging start.



I spent a few minutes once I got down there just wandering the crowd, trying to get a sense of the mood.  It seemed rather somber and yet there was an energy in the air.  I think too often Fort McMurray is disparaged and there is a certain self-consciousness about drawing attention to yourself, or at least that's been my read in the time I've been here.  At any rate, people wanted to make their voices heard and I felt a growing anticipation.









I noticed two little boys playing in the grass next to a sign they had made and it caught my attention.  A simple and heart-felt message that brought a tear to my eye to be honest.  Timothy of course was the youngest of the two survivors.



After an opening prayer from a local clergyman, there was a musical performance of a couple of songs written for the occasion.  I recall the crowd being rather quiet for the first song, however applause and shouts of support went out at the second song at the lyrics "cry out at the shame"and "call out the army if you have to, we're sick of losing mates."



A few speakers then took the stage address the crowd.  First up was local blogger Theresa Wells, whose  open letter to Premier Redford has received more than 24, 000 views.  Another speaker, a mother and 32-year resident, her voice full of emotion, told of the pain of losing her only son one New Year's day.  One speaker spoke of the impact of these tragedies on children, how a child would never graduate, know his first kiss or go on his first date because, due to someone's stupidity, he had become a statistic.  She also spoke of a child not even getting to experience what life was like because they didn't even have a chance to be born. Sadly, this was the case in this recent tragedy.   Another lady, an 18-year-resident, spoke of how, even though she is originally from Newfoundland, Fort McMurray is now home for her.  She read from an open letter she had written about how many close calls she's witnessed.  Yes, we also have Highway 881, which connects to 63 a few kilometres south of the city.  BUT, again, Highway 881 is another two-lane highway.  She urged all listening not to wait until we were personally affected before taking action.  Dion Lefebvre who witnessed the crash and rushed in to help, also spoke.  He was very blunt and to the point -- "Big Oil is profiting off our community and people here pay the price so let's twin this highway.  Let's just fucking get it done."  Finally, both our newly-elected MLA's took the stage.  Both Don Scott and Mike Allen spoke of their commitment to keep the twinning of the highway a priority when the legislature meets.  They spoke of their intent to meet with the soon-to-be-appointed Minister of Transportation and other officials and push for progress.

And push for progress I hope we continue to do.  I haven't read any media reports yet, though I intend to do so once I have this post up.  Both CBC and CTV were there so I know we got out message out.

Yes, safer driving is part of the solution.  I'm not sure there was anyone there who would have argued against it.  However, given the sheer volume of traffic on Highway 63, it is clear that improving the road by twinning it is also an important piece of the puzzle.  The provincial government committed to this in 2006.  Little progress has been made.  We've heard all the excuses.  Enough.  It's time to get it done.  Premier Redford, the ball is in your court.

I thought I'd finish up with a few photos from fellow McMurrayites, many of whom sported signs expressing their concern or mourning the loss of a loved one.