Question Period (17 May 2005)

Question Period

From Hansard - 17 May 2005

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Condition of Provincial Highways
Mr. Stewart: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Lake Diefenbaker is a tourism gem in southern Saskatchewan but its potential has not been realized and development around Elbow, Mistusinne, and Douglas Park is pitifully slow despite a world-class golf course, marina, and a beautiful, clean lake. The main reason seems to be the lack . . . for the lack of development around these communities seems to be Highway 19 from Highway 42 to the community of Elbow.

Mr. Speaker, those driving on Highway 19 have a difficult decision to make. They can dodge the deer or they can dodge the potholes. The highway is a major route to recreational areas, Mr. Speaker. Its not a back road. Mr. Speaker, why is Highway 19 perpetually in such poor condition?

Hon. Mr. Sonntag: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, let me first of all say that in case members are not aware, last year and this year, its the first time its ever happened that weve had the most extreme weather conditions as it relates to freezing and thawing in Saskatchewans history.

Well you hear them hooting from their desks, Mr. Speaker. But, Mr. Speaker, professionals have been talking about this for some time. In Western Canada weve had two years of extreme weather conditions. Mr. Speaker, let me say this, let me say this to the Conservative . . .

The Speaker: Order please, members. Order please. The Minister of Highways and Transportation.

Hon. Mr. Sonntag: . . . when you get into the fact that . . .

The Speaker: I want to be able to hear the responses, members. The Minister of Highways and Transportation.

Hon. Mr. Sonntag: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well if they dont want to listen to the facts I guess Ill say this for the public across the province, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I encourage those members to support this government and support this budget. I encourage those members to support . . . to contact their cousins in Ottawa as well, those Conservative members from Saskatchewan, our MPs [Member of Parliament], as well to support the budget to deliver even more money here to the province of Saskatchewan, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Stewart: Mr. Speaker, earlier this month the Canadian Automobile Association released the results of a survey that said Canadians are more concerned about highways than any other part of public infrastructure. Roads in Quebec and the Prairies are seen as the poorest in Canada. And Saskatchewan roads are certainly the poorest in the Prairies.

Mr. Speaker, this government has an obligation to its citizens to maintain basic services like roads. Mr. Speaker, why is this minister shirking that responsibility? Why isnt Highway No. 19, from Highway 42 to Elbow more of a priority with this NDP government since it is the only access to one of southern Saskatchewans main tourist attractions?

Hon. Mr. Sonntag: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well each one of the questions that have been asked they identify an area of the economy that are doing well, Mr. Speaker. They talk about first of all the oil and gas. We see significant oil and gas development in the province. While certainly that is something that we desire, well continue to promote and develop in our province, Mr. Speaker, it continues to put pressure on the infrastructure.

They talk about tourism, Mr. Speaker, another area of the economy thats doing very well, Mr. Speaker. And we see year over year, Mr. Speaker, increases in the number of tourists that come to visit this beautiful province of Saskatchewan. I know thatll happen in even greater numbers this year during our centennial year.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize, we recognize the importance of infrastructure and thats why weve increased our budget this year during this springs budget, Mr. Speaker.

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