The provincial ministry of highways and infrastructure has said it’s developed a plan to repair the road — one that involves putting in more culverts.Iron says that’s not enough. She’s among the northern residents calling on the government to seriously invest in Highway 903, to pave it and install a bridge instead of coming up with Band-Aid solutions.“It’s about time they pave the damn roads. They cause so many deaths because they’re a crazy mixture of sand and clay. Soft spots suck you in and yank you all over. They’re crazy dangerous,” Iron said, adding that logging traffic increases the hazards.David Horth, director of communications at the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, said contractors are on site draining water from the area and working on a temporary crossing that is expected to be open by the end of the week.The temporary crossing will go over a cofferdam being put in place to allow for a permanent repair.“In the short term, our focus is on opening the road to light traffic,” Horth said, adding that the ministry will assess load limits for heavier vehicles, and heavier trucks will be detoured onto a different road — Highway 155 — where overweight permits may be available for local hauling.He said he expects contractors to be on site and working on a permanent repair by mid-September. He expects that to be completed by the fall, subject to weather conditions.“We realize that the impacts of this washout are significant for people, and we’re doing everything we can to fast-track repairs,” Horth said.A design team has proposed that the single culvert that washed out be replaced with additional culverts to reduce risk of future washouts, he added.“This means repairs can be done more quickly and it’s quite a bit more cost-effective.”Highway 903 is a 120-kilometre stretch of road that runs from Cole Bay south to Highway 55, just east of Meadow Lake. Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Former Canoe Lake First Nation Chief Guy Lariviere wrote to Highways Minister Greg Ottenbreit to say that Highway 903 was built in the late 1980s as a forestry road. Nearly 60 kilometres of the road was paved in the early ’90s and residents of Canoe Lake have been asking for the road to be paved ever since. They say paving would improve safety because the road is heavily used and crashes happen often.“People drive through for their banking in Meadow Lake, they drive back and forth all the time and it’s not safe,” Lariviere said. “It’s time to make some kind of progress. The end result: we want pavement on that road. It’s half-paved. There’s another 40 or 50 miles to go.”According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), there were 451 collisions, 178 injuries, and five deaths on Highway 903 from 1988 to Aug. 22, 2018.Wallace Couillonneur of Cole Bay said he missed a family funeral because of the washed out road.“Normally it wouldn’t have been so difficult, just go to Dorintosh and cut across, but what would have been 1.5 hours is instead over four and gas is expensive. The washout is causing a lot of problems for people,” Couillonneur said. “The road should have been paved a long time ago; I don’t know why we’re still on a gravel road with no bridge there.”He said the Band-Aid solution will cost money that could have been used to pave the road instead, and he wonders if the community will have to have to wait another 20 or 30 years for a paved road.Buckley Belanger, the NDP MLA who represents the northern riding, said the state of the road is unacceptable.“This is a huge hole, 100 to 150 yards long and 100 feet deep, with cracks along the edge that suggests parts are going to keep falling into the river,” he said.“It’s affecting the regional economy: forestry, services, shopping, those people working in Meadow Lake; it has a drastic negative effect overall for everyone.”Belanger said he doesn’t think culverts will solve the problem.“They need a bridge, look at this expanse. Perhaps culverts are the quickest way to get it operational, but is that an adequate solution?” he asked. “They’ve had problems with this are before. Do we take the Band-Aid approach and get people using it quicker, or the good solution: design and finance and build a bridge?”Related Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Jessica Iron is terrified to think of what could happen if her six-month-old baby gets sick.Iron lives in Cole Bay, roughly 400 kilometres north of Saskatoon.The nearest hospital is in Meadow Lake. Until this summer, it was about a 60-minute drive down Highway 903.But the culvert under the road gave way this summer and the road washed out. If residents of Cole Bay want to get to Meadow Lake, they need to canoe across the washed-out road and catch a ride or drive a roundabout route under construction that could take them up to three hours.“It’s frightening to think of what would happen if my baby needed a hospital,” Iron says. “What about all the pregnant women? Lord help them if they have complications or go into labour. Or the sick people.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below. Residents of Cole Bay, Jans Bay, and Canoe Lake First Nation are concerned about the condition of Highway 903, which collapsed this summer and is now under repair. A line of culverts wait to be installed along Highway 903. ‘People are going to go without food’: Washed-out road poses challenges for northerners
SASKATOON – Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty is taking umbrage with accusations that the government is hiding the truth about the province’s finances.“Nobody’s lying about anything here,” he said Monday at the legislature.“We are gathering the information (and) the information’s going to be presented on March 22 along with the budget, three weeks from this Wednesday.”The third quarter ended in December and Opposition finance critic Cathy Sproule said the government should have released a budget update by now.Sproule said fresh numbers would provide a clear picture instead of speculation about an estimated $1.2-billion deficit.“For Saskatchewan families and workers, times are tough, but, instead of providing honesty and stability, the Sask. Party keeps lying about the facts and throwing around phrases like ‘transformational change’ and ‘everything is on the table,’ ” Sproule said in Saskatoon.“The people of the province deserve to know the truth.”The NDP said third-quarter updates have been released in February since 2012, with the exception of 2015, when the government didn’t release one because it was changing the way finances are reported.The government used to report the budget on its general revenue fund, which was just the government’s operating expenses and revenues.It switched to what is called a summary basis, which includes all parts of government and Crown corporations, and was recommended by the provincial auditor.Doherty said that’s one reason why it takes more time to pull the numbers together.“It’s just not ready yet. Nobody’s hiding anything. If the numbers were ready to be released, we would release it tomorrow.”The NDP raised similar concerns last summer when the government did not release a first-quarter budget update.Doherty said last September that the fiscal year was unusual because of the provincial election last April and the timing of the budget. The government tabled the budget in June instead of March.That meant the budget passed and the first quarter ended on the same day, so the numbers that the public saw June 1 were essentially first-quarter numbers, he said.The government projected a deficit of $434 million when it introduced the budget last June. That climbed to about $1 billion when the mid-year update was released last fall.Premier Brad Wall told the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association earlier this month that the provincial deficit is up to about $1.2 billion. The premier said tax revenue is lower than forecast and crop insurance claims are up $250 million because of a late harvest.The government is also trying to save money because of a big drop in revenue from oil and gas, potash and uranium.“We don’t have all the different revenue figures in. We don’t have all the different expenditure numbers in to say assuredly, ‘Here’s the actual number that we’re forecasting for the end of the year’ until they consolidate all of that,” said Doherty.The government has publicly mused that public servants could be forced to take unpaid days off as it wrestles with the deficit.Wage rollbacks, layoffs in health care and education and tax increases are also being considered. Saskatchewan not hiding state of province’s pocketbook: finance minister by Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press Posted Feb 27, 2017 10:59 am MDT Last Updated Feb 27, 2017 at 3:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
Briefing the Security Council, Ellen Margrethe Løj, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said this is the message that she has consistently conveyed to all her interlocutors, including President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. “I have told them that the guns must be silenced; peace cannot be delayed even for one more day. The untold suffering of the people of South Sudan must stop,” declared Ms. Løj, telling the Council that after 6 weeks in South Sudan as head of the UN mission, she is convinced that every day without a political agreement, contributes to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground. Forces loyal to political rivals Mr. Kiir and his former Vice-President Mr. Machar, have been battling for the past 10 months, turning what began as a political spat into all out conflict that has sent more than 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country. The crisis has uprooted some 1.8 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.The ongoing absence of a concrete peace deal complicates the work of the Mission and risks negatively impacting the region. As such, Ms. Løj called on the Council, regional leaders and all friends of this young nation to remain fully engaged with the warring parties so that they make the necessary compromise required to translate their public statements of commitment to peace into actions on the ground. “The people of South Sudan deserve no less.”On the security front, she explained that small scale skirmishes have continued between the two parties to the conflict. Two weeks ago the Opposition forces mobilized from the Canal area of Northern Jonglei state and attacked and captured Dolleib Hill to the south of Malakal in Upper Nile state. In Unity state, “tensions remain high”, said Ms. Løj, particularly around the UNMISS protection site in Bentiu, with the Sudan People´s Liberation Army (SPLA), continuing to allege that the UNMISS protection site is an Opposition stronghold. Outside the traditional conflict zones, UNMISS is also keeping a close eye on Lakes state, where inter-communal violence continues which, in the most recent spate, left 30 dead in Rumbek Centre in early October. “The Government is deploying additional security forces to Rumbek in an attempt to bring the security situation under control,” she added.Turning to other issues, Ms. Løj said that across the country, the humanitarian situation remains “dire”, with around four million people, close to a third of the population, facing serious food insecurity. Aid agencies are working hard to support those in need, with over 3.2 million people having been reached with some form of humanitarian assistance over the course of the year. “UNMISS will continue to support the humanitarian community to ensure the key needs of the people of South Sudan are met” she said, noting that during the dry season, requests are likely to increase for the Mission to provide force protection to relief convoys and sites where relief is prepositioned and stored. The arrival of the remainder of the authorized surge capacity, including the proposed riverine capacity, will be key to respond to these needs. “However, no amount of aid can solve the crisis or convince people to return home: only peace and reconciliation can and, sadly, in the absence of both, the aid operation will have to be sustained if we are to continue to prevent the humanitarian situation from further deteriorating,” cautioned Ms. Løj.As for the human rights situation, she told the Council: “I must say that since I have been on the ground, I have been shocked by the complete disregard for human life. Those responsible for committing atrocities and human rights violations must be held to account and face justice.” In that regard, she looked forward to the findings of the African Union Commission of Inquiry.Highlighting another critical issue, Ms. Løj although relations between UNMISS and national authorities have improved at the political level and the number of violations of the Status of Forces agreement has decreased over the past couple of months, such violations have, in fact continued. “I am seriously concerned by the recent spate of unlawful arrests and detentions, and abductions targeting UN and humanitarian personnel. Two of our national staffs have remained in detention since August,” she said, adding that on 10 October, three UNMISS Individual Contractors were abducted at Malakal Airport, two of whom have since been released but the third person is yet to be found. Further, on 16 October a UN agency national staff member was abducted at Malakal Airport by unknown persons. “I urge Government authorities to do everything within their power to see that the captured UNMISS individual contractor and the UN agency staff member are freed quickly and unharmed,” she said.