Victoria Jurgens and Darryl Hickie have failed their constituents, Saskatchewan NDP Highways and Infrastructure critic Buckley Belanger said this week.
“They’d much rather stand in the background to support Brad Wall than stand up for the people of Prince Albert,” the Athabasca MLA said. “I’m very disappointed.”
A week after a report was released stating that the Prince Albert area doesn’t need a second North Saskatchewan River crossing, both Prince Albert Saskatchewan Party MLAs have decided to rest on the report’s laurels.
Like any professional report, they’re not obliged to adhere to its findings, Belanger said, noting that the need for a second bridge is obvious.
Jurgens and Hickie are following party line, controlled by “an elite group of conservatives that decide they will do what’s best for the province,” Belanger said.
“This is not just about politics, from our point of view. This is all about smart growth. What’s happening right now, the current bridge … is choking the economy, it’s restricting a lot of traffic flow in and out, and I don’t care what anybody says, you’ve got to have the proper infrastructure to make things happen.
“All of the arguments out there (for a bridge) are very sound economic points.”
Friday’s Daily Herald quotes Hickie as stating that economic activity and growth will “drive the need for a second bridge,” backing up the report’s conclusion that traffic volume will not merit a second bridge for up to 30 years.
This is backwards thinking, Belanger said.
“We, in the NDP, believe that a bridge is needed within the next 30 years to build the economy,” he said. “This should have been built to ensure 30 years of growth, not after it.”
Although the Sask. Party didn’t promise a second bridge during the 2011 provincial election as the Saskatchewan NDP did, Belanger still feels it was a bait and switch situation.
With Hickie stating that a second bridge was “inevitable” and Premier Brad Wall saying the he recognized the need, Belanger feels the public was misled.
They’d much rather stand in the background to support Brad Wall than stand up for the people of Prince Albert. - Saskatchewan NDP Highways and Infrastructure critic Buckley Belanger, on Darryl Hickie and Victoria Jurgens
“This whole process, they led people on, they walked them down a garden path and then wacked them with this report,” he said.
“Jurgens and Hickie are simply not listening to the people … I think the decision was made long before the report was commissioned.”
With the Prince Albert area lacking a “backbencher with a backbone,” Belanger is putting out a call to action for Hickie, Jurgens, and other area Sask. Party MLAs, to back constituents’ demands for a second bridge.
“I would encourage the MLAs in the area to join the NDP and fight for that bridge and see what they’re made of.
“I would suggest to the people of Prince Albert that there’s still time. We’re still going to fight alongside them and continue fighting for that bridge.”
At the municipal level, Mayor Greg Dionne said the city’s elected officials will “continue to work on it.”
“Come the next provincial election, the voters will speak.”