The City of Lacombe is hoping the new provincial government will change a decision made by their predecessors to build a new rest stop north of the city at Wolf Creek.
Part of a $20 million announcement made by the Alberta NDP in March, which included two other rest stops on the Yellowhead Highway, the then-government said the stop would be “designed to accommodate possible future commercial opportunities, such as gas stations and restaurants.”
However, the location is outside of the City of Lacombe’s growth area, meaning any commercial development would be in direct competition with the West Area development – an area the city and Lacombe County has invested $15 million worth of servicing – for highway front land.
“Most everyone can agree a rest stop is an appropriate safety feature. The only issue I have, and that council has as well, is the location of it,” said City of Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey. “To locate it at its proposed spot, which is only a few miles away from what is soon to be a large development bordering the county and city, just seems a little short sighted.”
At present, there is no southbound rest stop between Edmonton and Red Deer on the QEII, despite 14,280 motorists passing by the Lacombe area on a daily basis, according to Alberta Transportation.
At the time of the announcement, Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law said a rest stop was good news, as it had been talked about for a number of years and would be the first stop within their boundaries. While Lacombe isn’t against a rest stop being provided in the area, they do want the province to explore other locations they believe would be more advantageous to both the city and Lacombe County.
Creasey was not aware of any official consultation with the city on the proposed location and said his understanding was there was limited discussion with the previous council, and of the various locations discussed for such a rest stop, Wolf Creek was not a favourable one.
As such, council voted in favour of sending a letter to the new Minister of Infrastructure, Prasad Panda, as well as Premier Jason Kenney urging the province reconsider the location, which Creasey said he was hopeful would see changes.
“I rather doubt our current government would necessarily choose to be in direct competition with a municipality rather than enhance services and provide the safety features motorists expect and deserve,” he said.
“This is a first step. It’s not a confrontational thing – it’s just to see where we’re at and suggest some logical and better alternatives.”