BOISSEVAIN RECORDER/KALI WILKINSON
The sign David Stead placed on the west side of Highway 10 north of Boissevain.
It’s as glaring as the potholes themselves and if you can steady your eyes long enough over the rough terrain of Highway 10 to read it, the sign clearly reads: "Welcome Americans Sorry About Our Crappy Road!"
David Stead, who owns Steads Farm Supply and is a councillor in the RM of Morton, erected the sign on the west side of Highway 10 just north of Boissevain and he’s got a challenge for Premier Greg Selinger.
"If they would bring the premier down here, I’ll put him in the front of my delivery truck and I’ll shake him right out of the seat because I get shook out of my seat every damn day," Stead said.
Stead set the sign up prior to the arrival of hundreds of American competitors in Brandon for the Canadian National Arabian and Half-Arabian Show in the middle of August.
While the sign is an apology for the state of the highway, which is a major trading route between Canada and the United States, it’s also a condemnation of the provincial government, which refuses to fix it, according to Stead.
"It’s an embarrassment for the province," Stead said. "When you look at the products that are exported — liquid fertilizer, anhydrous, pigs, cattle, potatoes — they all come down this highway and it’s the only other 24-hour port in Manitoba and it’s absolutely disgraceful."
Today, the sign still stands tall, but the decision to set up the sign prior to the horse show was an attempt to let visitors from the U.S. know that area residents aren’t happy and won’t tolerate a road in that condition either.
"There are all of these fancy trucks and trailers coming from across the United States and as soon as they get to the port it’s like going to a Third World country," Stead said. "And there’s no firm plans of when they are going to fix it."
The province’s perceived inaction is as much political as any, according to Stead.
"It is political," Stead said. "If we had of been an NDP riding, I’m sure this road would have been fixed."
Furthermore, Stead believes the province isn’t adequately protecting and investing in an area that is filling government coffers.
"We’re tired of being ignored and this area is making a lot of money for the province," Stead said. "This is where we are making money in this province is on this highway and further west of here in the oilpatch."
According to a government spokesman, the province continues to invest in transportation projects after the flood of 2011.
"This year, $589 million has been budgeted alone for improved roads and bridges," the spokesman said. "There was extensive patching done on this portion of Highway 10 due to damage from wet conditions and spring melt."
The spokesman chose not to comment specifically on the sign itself, but focus on the work that is scheduled.
Improvements and resurfacing are approved projects under Manitoba’s multi-year Highway Renewal Plan, according to the spokesman, but the specific year of the work for the project is still being determined.
For Stead, it’s just lip service until some work actually gets done on the road.
"It’s no joke," Stead said. "It’s a major highway and we’re being treated like it isn’t."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 27, 2012