During question period, Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger asserted that the Sask. Party was being ignorant of Prince Albert’s need for a new bridge, citing that the campaign to do so had received tremendous support.
“That campaign was backed up by the Chamber of Commerce, the RMs around the city, and of course, all the people who live in and around Prince Albert,” he said.
“The Sask. Party Government has totally abandoned Prince Albert and they refuse to listen to all of the voices calling for a second bridge,” Belanger continued. “Mr. Speaker, Why has the Sask. Party abandoned the city of Prince Albert and refused even to consider building that second bridge?”
Don McMorris, minister of highways and infrastructure, responded by saying it was “recycle day.”
“We’ve answered a number of these questions, whether it’s in (agriculture) or highways before, but we’ll take another shot at it,” he said.
McMorris cited the Stantec report that deemed a second bridge as unnecessary for the immediate future and claimed the Diefenbaker Bridge has a lifespan of another 25 years.
“It wasn't driven by the Ministry of Highways or any of the municipalities. It was a joint study, combined to cover whether a second bridge was needed in Prince Albert,” he said. “That study came back, Mr. Speaker. It says that the bridge right now, as it is, will serve the needs of that area for a number of years.”
Belanger took offence to McMorris calling the second bridge initiative a “recycled project,” noting that it is “a very important issue for the entire northern part of our province and for that region.”
He also criticized Prince Albert-Carlton MLA Darryl Hickie and Prince Albert-Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens, both of the Sask. Party, for being too passive on the topic, quoting Jurgens as being supportive of a second bridge in 2011.
“Since then, those local Sask. Party MLAs hid in their bunkers so they wouldn’t have to repeat their record,” Belanger said. “The member from Prince Albert-Carlton told a local paper, ‘While pre-election and during the election campaign, I was very strong on that second bridge for Prince Albert.’
“Why won’t the two members from Prince Albert stand up for their constituents and support that second bridge for Prince Albert and region?” Belanger asked.
McMorris said he found it “very curious” that Belanger and the Saskatchewan NDP would be so fervently behind a second bridge, claiming that, as the former minister of highways, Belanger did “nothing for northern Saskatchewan.”
“In fact, in Prince Albert, they tore apart the bridge, and they wouldn’t even repave it,” he said.