Airdrie-Cochrane NDP candidate Shaun Fluker agrees with the need to improve highway rest stops but is concerned the province's plan will hit travellers in the pocketbook.
He says we need rest stops that are clean and safe with lots of parking and good lighting and wifi, but let's leave it at that.
"I do think it's a good initiative, but I do think it's a public service," says Fluker. "My primary concern with the current government's direction is it sounds like perhaps it's going to lead to service fees and what have you, which I think just detracts from the overall service that these stops are intended to provide."
He says we already have enough restaurants or service stations along these routes.
Fluker believes the government should provide an assurance that user fees or other payment mechanisms aren't imposed on travellers, but the government's news release suggests otherwise.
This week, the Alberta government revealed plans to improve a select number of rest stops on Alberta highways. Requests for tenders will be issued this summer, contracts will be finalized by late 2023, and construction is anticipated to begin in 2024. It follows two years of gathering feedback from municipalities and the trucking industry.
“Alberta’s highways connect businesses and travellers with trade and leisure opportunities," states Transportation minister Prasad Panda in the news release. "Developing new rest areas will enhance convenience and safety for the businesses and tourists who travel Alberta’s highways.”
Costs associated with commercial developments will be paid by the private sector and recovered through business revenue, states provincial officials. They say they will provide a place for motorists to park and rest and will enhance Albertans’ and visitors’ travel experiences by offering fuel, food, and other commercial services.
The officials believe the upgrade rest stops will provide innovative, efficient, and environmentally sustainable services with newer infrastructure and potential for new technology, such as vehicle charging stations.