The proposed East Clearwater Highway project is becoming less likely to move forward.
That’s according to Mayor Don Scott who spoke about the potential route on Fort McMurray Matters.
“I think the likelihood of it proceeding is diminishing as we see the provincial debt rise… we understand the GoA has other important priorities but we’re always gonna advocate for this secondary access route.”
The highway was proposed by the former Wood Buffalo Recovery Committee.
It would serve as a secondary route during emergency situations and the transportation of dangerous goods north and south of Fort McMurray.
The cost for the project has been estimated between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, many believe the price tag may be the highway’s downfall.
However, Scott believes this could be a nice spark for the economy.
“Imagine the economic spinoff and the number of jobs being created. A lot of times, to get out of an economic downturn that’s what governments do, they create a lot of jobs through projects like this.”
The provincial government has not written off the project.
In a statement sent to the Mix News, a spokesperson for Alberta’s Transportation Ministry says they’re continuing to study the benefits.
“We recognize the importance of providing alternate routes into and out of the Fort McMurray. We expect the study to be finished by the end of this year and have not made any decisions on proposed alternate routes.”
Meanwhile, Scott believes the GoA shouldn’t have to cover the entire costs.
He’s hoping the federal government steps up to help cover some of the funds.
“As soon as there’s an economic downturn everybody looks the other way. We’re the region that needs support right now, if the oil industry is struggling, so is the rest of Canada so they should be injecting more money here than they would anywhere else.”