After being put on the back-burner since the end of 2013, the District of Lake Country is hoping to move
forward with talks with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure on handing over control of Pelmewash Parkway to the district.
The old Highway 97 along Wood Lake, re-named Pelmewash Parkway by Lake Country when the new Highway 97 opened, is still owned by the provincial government despite the fact the new highway has been open since August of 2013.
At the time it was expected the government would hand over control to the district within a year, but negotiations have dragged on between the two sides for a variety of reasons.
“There are many technical details regarding road, drainage, traffic, rock scaling and others that have required some study and analysis,” said Lake Country administrator Alberto De Feo in explaining the process. “There are also a number of permits with a number of residents in the area that we are reviewing as part of our due diligence, similar to what was done for the acquisition of the CN corridor.”
The acquisition of the CN corridor was another issue that took some time away from the district being able to move forward with the final acquisition of Pelmewash Parkway from the province. As well, during last November’s civic election campaign, Mayor James Baker talked about rock scaling work that needed to be done along the old highway prior to Lake Country taking over control of the stretch of highway.
De Feo said the condition of the road and the pullovers is one issue Lake Country and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways are talking about with the cost to make improvements being negotiated between the two sides.
“Local government road standards are different from provincial road standards,” he said. “We need to overcome some of those differences. The cost to the district and the willingness of the province to participate to those costs is part of the discussion.”
When the public was last involved in the Pelmewash discussions it was in November of 2013 when the district unveiled a concept plan for the parkway. The consultant who wrote the plan pegged the high-end cost of developing Pelmewash at $12 to $13 million and the district said grants would be available along the way to developing, much like the CN corridor.
With the district acquiring its portion of the CN corridor earlier this year, the district now has two different trails to develop going though its boundaries.
“With the acquisition of the CN corridor on the other side of Wood Lake, this asset (Pelmewash) becomes even more important as it creates a very nice loop around the lake,” said De Feo, who added that more public consultation will likely need to be done once the road is handed over to district control. “Council will have to review the work done last term and maybe add some more public consultation to see if people are still interested in the concept that was laid out then. These planning exercises take time as there are many issues and many affected people who live in the area that need to be taken into consideration.”
De Feo said he is unsure when the highway will finally be given over to Lake Country control but added both sides would like to see it happen at some point this year.