TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst addresses the media as Premier Greg Selinger and Federal Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher look on during the official opening of the upgraded section of Highway 10 on Friday. The event was held at the Brandon Municipal Airport due to poor weather.
Highway 10 north of Brandon will offer motorists "a safer road, a smarter road and a greener road," Premier Greg Selinger said Friday at the official opening announcement for the highway.
"There’s rumble strips, which is always fun to say, and there’s dividers," Selinger said during the announcement that was moved indoors to the Brandon Municipal Airport because of poor weather. "There’s passing lanes and service roads. There’s a number of features that make it much safer for the public that’s using it. It’s being used in large numbers as people go up and down that highway to the recreation areas on this side of the province."
Selinger noted the improved intersections, merging lanes and the more environmental approach of recycling old paving materials stripped from the roadway into fresh asphalt applied during the paving process.
"That made it a more cost-effective project," Selinger said of the $15-million project. According to the joint federal-provincial press release handed out at the announcement, the federal government contributed $3.8 million of the $15 million.
Meanwhile, in a post-announcement scrum, Selinger noted that a request for federal cost-shared funding for Keystone Centre repairs and capital needs has been sent to the federal government that could invest as much as $1.5 million into the facility.
"We support the Keystone Centre and have many times with both operating and capital, but under the MRIF (a rural infrastructure) program, we are prepared to put our share in along with the municipality and will look for a federal contribution as well," Selinger said.
Requests for funding the Keystone Centre’s capital needs will get a favourable hearing, said federal Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher, who was also on hand for the highway announcement.
"As we have seen today, we work very well together, the province and the feds, and now that the request is in Ottawa, I look forward, with (Brandon-Souris Conservative MP) Merv Tweed’s representation and the need and merits of the project, which I have reviewed, I am very optimistic on that project," Fletcher said.
While at the airport, Selinger offered his support for Brandon’s bid to secure WestJet regional air service.
"We have already participated in improving this airport with lighting and safety equipment, and that was a federal-provincial initiative supported by the municipality, so once again, if we can attract a regional airline, and have the business case for that demonstrated, which we think is pretty strong given the growing Brandon economy we have here, we’ll be supportive of that and we’ll find solutions."
Selinger added that if further improvements are required for Brandon Municipal Airport, "we’ll take a look at that."
Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst had an opportunity to speak with Selinger prior to the announcement and she was overheard bringing up Brandon’s bid to secure a casino for the city.
"We continue to talk with AMC and Grand Chief (Derek) Nepinak and we are working towards a meeting with the other chiefs so we can have a more fullsome discussion around gaming in the province," Decter Hirst said.
While efforts have been made to schedule talks between the City of Brandon, its partner Tribal Councils Investment Group and the AMC’s chiefs, it has been difficult to hammer out a date for further discussions.
"They have some big issues around funding for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs because of the federal announcement and they are very concerned, but we also see the opportunities that other sources of funding such as gaming can provide the aboriginal community," Decter Hirst said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 6, 2012