Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen listens to the complaints and ideas of Sylvan Lake residents regarding the surrounding highways at a Town Hall meeting held at the Sylvan Lake Legion on Feb. 21. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake councillor disagrees with MLA’s approach to dangerous intersection

MLA Devin Dreeshen held a town hall meeting Thursday night about the Hwy. 781 and 11 intersection

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen held a town hall meeting Thursday night to discuss problems residents have with highway conditions, specifically at the Hwy. 11 and 781 intersection.

However, one Sylvan Lake councillor did not agree with the process, saying nothing will come of this meeting.

According to Coun. Jas Payne, the effort of the town hall meeting was futile without at least a representative from the Ministry of Transportation at the table.

“Unless we have Alberta Transportation sitting at the table, listening to us, unless someone is willing to go and say this is what has to happen, this sounds to me like a lot of lip service,” Payne said at the meeting.

MLA Dreeshen says his plan it to write up a report based on the interactions from the meeting to deliver to the Minister of Transportation.

He hopes to be able to deliver the main problem areas, as seen by the residents from the area, which require attention and fixing to help the infrastructure in the area.

Dreeshen says the answers from the ministry are vague and not good enough when asked what the plan is.

Like Payne, he says the answer he has always received is that the ministry is not sure what the plan is regarding the highways around Sylvan Lake.

“I say we should stand up and say that’s not good enough,” Dreeshen said.

The discussion at the town hall meeting identified three major concern areas outside of the main topic of discussions, the Hwy. 11 and 781 intersection.

On top of that intersection the residents identified the intersections at Hwy. 11 and 60 Street, Memorial Trail and Hwy. 20 and the intersection at Hwy. 11 and 20 as further problem areas that need to be addressed.

Dreeshen also added he felt the frost heaves on Hwy. 11 west should also be added to the “laundry list” of problems that should be looked at.

“It would be a disservice to only focus on one problem,” he said.

A concern raised by one resident is what would happen if Sylvan Lake experienced a natural disaster.

The question raised was how would roughly 15,000 residents safely evacuate the town with limited options to exit onto main highways.

Payne agreed and said if the ministry is concerned about safety it should look at what it is doing and proposing.

“If we are going to talk about safety, let’s talk about real safety,” Payne said.

Payne added he felt Alberta Transportation moved one problem area, the intersection of Hwy. 11 and 781, to two other intersections.

“With the town growing west, I foresee will see more problems coming out of the 60 Street intersection,” said Payne.

Dreeshen called the problems of the surrounding highways “Frankenstien’s Monster,” in that various options were pieced together to create something that doesn’t work.

With Sylvan Lake’s population steadily growing, both Dreeshen and Payne agree there is no stopping it, but it can be planned and accounted for better options.

“Until we get Transportation at the table, I don’t see a whole lot of change happening,” said Payne.

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