The recent town hall meeting hosted by Kerry Towle, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, is the first meeting of this kind to be held in Sylvan Lake in the 70 years I have lived here.
Finally we have a voice in the Legislature. A luxury Sylvan Lake has never had before. Thank you Kerry. Many of us were amazed and delighted by the huge attendance of people from town and the surrounding rural area.
The Red Deer Advocate reported about 300 people attended; actually the number was 500 to 600 concerned citizens. Kerry had 500 letters for people to sign; these letters will be delivered to the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Ric McIver. There were not enough letters for everyone to sign but we have more now.
I believe that well over 100 people from our rural area took the time to attend. They came to voice their dismay and anger, along with the local citizens, of the way the Department of Transportation has so arrogantly and defiantly responded to this extremely dangerous condition at this intersection on such a busy highway.
The complete absence of all town officials that were invited to attend this town hall meeting angered the vast majority of those citizens at the meeting. On an open microphone many were able to voice their concerns and most worried about who will pay if there is a cost overrun on the Memorial Trail project.
They would like to know if traffic lights will be installed at Highway 20, 50th Street and 60th Street on Memorial Trail. Will traffic lights be installed on Highway 11 at 60th Street?
There has never, to my knowledge, been any discussion on Memorial Trail with the taxpayers, other than Mayor Samson assuring us that Memorial Trail is a win-win situation for everyone. Many of us do not see this win-win; please enlighten us right away.
Getting back to the Highway 11 and 781 intersection, Kerry Towle urged all of us not to give up the fight for changes at this intersection. We were told that the Minister of Transportation is having trouble with the idea of lights without support from our council. Our council and mayor need to back the citizens that voted them in and the MLA that represents our area, for this to succeed.
We need all the letters, phone calls and emails to town officials, Department of Transportation officials, other MLAs in our area, the Minister of Transportation and news media. Please take a few minutes to do the above.
Our town officials seem to feel the closure of our main access to Sylvan Lake is a dead issue or an issue that is out of their scope. However their support of their taxpayers’ wishes is in their control so let’s prove them wrong and keep fighting. Thanks again to all the people who are trying to right a wrong.
In closing this letter, one final observation. In 2002 the Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce lobbied the Department of Transportation for traffic lights at 781 — 10 long years ago. In 10 years absolutely nothing has been done to improve the situation, rather it is far worse.
In my mind, and the minds of many more, there is no doubt that had traffic lights been operating one year ago at 781 the three people who lost their lives may very well be alive today.
Politics is ugly at its best but we are risking people’s lives now and common sense must prevail over ego, arrogance and political aspirations.