FTLComm - Tisdale - June 27, 2000

unending task

This picture was taken just around noon Monday as the Department of Highways work crew rolled along #35 toward town stopping periodically to fix cracks as they were going along. The whole process of highway maintenance is an unending task, sort of like housework, but the problem has been compounded with the massive increase in highway traffic on Saskatchewan's secondary highways with the closing of rail lines. But to make matters even worse the Department of Highways continues to reduce spending.

provincial budget

If you listen to the government officials you would think that they are putting a fortune into Saskatchewan roads but that is simply not the case. In the past decade they have been struggling to balance the provincial budget and one of the things that was drastically reduced was highway maintenance. They have gradually been increasing that spending in the last two budgets but are still far behind what the "standard" level had been. While at the same time, only 85% of the money each of us pays in gasoline tax is going into highways, while the rest goes into general revenue. This is a significant improvement because only a few years ago less then 60% of this tax was being used by the department.

Crocked River to Porcupine Plain

In the Tisdale area we are somewhat better off than many other parts of Saskatchewan the terminal elevators were located here because this was a good place to have them with good highways already in place. The only highway that is in very poor shape in this area is the roadway from Crocked River to Porcupine Plain. There is some work in progress in rehabilitating this marshmellow road but even the fixes will be temporary as the underlying structure of that road is simply not adequate for the kind of traffic it is now being forced to accept because of the railway removal. Beyond Porcupine Plain the situation is a bit better toward Weekes but beyond Weekes East the hard surface has been removed and that is now a gravel road. So in essence the area is now in far worse shape then it was thirty years ago. In 1970 there was a gravel highway between Weekes and #16 but the railroad was in operation and traffic in the area was light.

roll back development in the province a full thirty years

During this decade it is reasonable to report that the Saskatchewan Government has been able to roll back development in the province a full thirty years as it has abandoned the rural areas and encouraged the devolution of all forms of infrastructure. The defenders of the Government would point out that this retraction of support of the Rural portion of the province goes hand in hand with the Federal Government's abandonment of this part of the country. The federal government collects taxes of all kinds including on gasoline and is not contributing in any way to highway maintenance and development while deregulating other transportation modes forcing more and more traffic on the highway system.

fathers of confederation

When the fathers of confederation considered establishing a land from sea to sea they realised that transportation would be the key to bonding the land together. With Quebec's impetulence and Ontario's demand for supremacy at all cost this primary goal of confederation has been lost and with it the unity of the nation which now is fragmented economically and politically so that they social and cultural difference are no longer even matters of concern.

Timothy W. Shire