by Phil Ambroziak
Access to and from communities north of Meadow Lake is once again a possibility for motorists travelling along Highway 903.
A temporary road was recently constructed about 75 kilometres north of Highway 55 where, earlier this summer, heavy rains and subsequent high water from nearby Devil’s Creek caused a section of Highway 903 to be completely washed away.
“Where the highway washed away there’s now about a 30 or 40-foot drop – we’ve never seen anything like that happen, at least not in recent history,” remarked Canoe Lake chief Francis Iron when interviewed shortly after the washout occurred in early August. “This has a huge impact on our community because Highway 903 is our main access road in and out. Now, if we need to leave Canoe Lake, we have to go around through the Beauval way. But, we also have cabins on the other side and we no longer have easy access to places like Meadow Lake or even Waterhen Lake First Nation where we often go to attend sweats and other gatherings. This is huge.”
With the temporary road now in place, however, Iron and others from Canoe Lake – as well as the neighbouring hamlets of Jans Bay and Cole Bay – can travel to Meadow Lake and other communities to the south without taking the longer route through Beauval and Green Lake via Highway 155. Drivers should take note, though, traffic is reduced to one lane on the temporary road, while the speed limit is reduced to 20 km/h.
Meanwhile, the maximum width for vehicles permitted to travel on the road is five metres and the maximum weight is 10,000 kilograms. The detour is both soft and rutted, and motorists are urged to drive with caution as workers and equipment may be present.
According to the provincial Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, Highway 903 itself will eventually be restored.
The initial washout and road closure also slowed operations at the local mills, as well as Mistik Management Ltd. which harvests logs from the surrounding area.