LAKELAND – The City of Cold has expressed disappointment over the absence of funding for improvements on Highway 28 in the Government of Alberta’s three-year capital plan. This absence pushes back the realization of substantial improvements on the highway to as late as 2028. 

City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland expressed frustration, stating, “We know a commitment was made to study what upgrades are needed for Highway 28 in early 2023, but there does not seem to be any sense of urgency for a highway that has been in obvious need of upgrades for well over a decade.” 

Highlighting the critical nature of Highway 28, Copeland emphasized its significance as a route connecting the Cold Lake oilsands to major urban centers. He pointed out that the neglect of this vital infrastructure not only poses a danger to motorists, but also perpetuates a trend of inadequate investment in the region. 

“There are always billions upon billions for the big cities, but when the time comes to travel to northeastern Alberta on Highway 28 – if you take a job in the Cold Lake oilsands – you are stuck on a goat path that any driver would realize has needed upgrades for years,” said Copeland. 

According to information from the City of Cold Lake, the surrounding areas have been gearing up for increased growth and activity, particularly with the implementation of the federal government’s Future Fighter Capability Project at the nearby Royal Canadian Air Force base, 4 Wing.  

This program entails substantial federal investment, creating hundreds of construction jobs and boosting economic activity in the region. However, the lack of investment in essential infrastructure like Highway 28 raises concerns about the region’s ability to support such growth effectively. 

Copeland further criticized the provincial government’s allocation of funds, noting the disparity in investment between urban centers and northeastern Alberta. He lamented the neglect of schools and community infrastructure in Cold Lake, despite being designated as priorities. 

Copeland also acknowledged the frustration felt within the business community.  

“It’s frustrating, I know the business community is not happy,” said the mayor. 

He spoke of the urgent need for investment in Highway 28, suggesting that the province should reevaluate its financial projections and allocate funds for immediate improvements. 

“I don’t think I’m alone when I say that we were expecting a greater commitment to the industry and municipalities that helped build so much of this province, and we were hoping that a small portion of the revenue that comes from our corner of the province might be returned in the form of basic infrastructure. We were sorely disappointed.” 

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Scott Cyr addressed concerns regarding Highway 28 in a recent statement. 

“Regarding twinning and upgrading of the other portions of Highway 28, aside from Smoky Lake, I understand there might be worries due to its absence from the capital list. This is because the project is still in the design phase, a necessary step before budget allocation and scheduling can be finalized. Money can’t be allocated until we know what we are working with,” said Cyr.  

“The design phase costs were already allocated in last year’s budget. The UCP government is focused on completing this process efficiently to ensure Highway 28’s inclusion in future planning.” 

By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 12, 2024 at 13:17

This item reprinted with permission from   Lakeland This Week   Bonnyville, Alberta

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