Manitowaning to Wikwemikong road should be rebuilt by mid-summer

MANITOWANING—The reality of a smooth ride along Cardwell Street, once voted Ontario’s worst road by the Canadian Automobile Association, is drawing ever closer as the tenders for the road’s reconstruction project are now out, with a closing date of this Friday, March 28.

Cardwell Street is the thoroughfare that runs between Manitowaning and the entrance to Wikwemikong and is the responsibility of the Township of Assiginack.

Work starting on Cardwell Street is weather dependant, but Assiginack is hoping to see a start as soon as the ground frost disappears.

During last week’s meeting of Assiginack council, engineers Doug Leask and Monte Lucas of WSP Engineering (formerly Genivar) attended the meeting via conference call. A delegation from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve was also in attendance including Chief Duke Peltier. Clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs explained that Wikwemikong had been provided with a set of the engineers’ drawings prior to the meeting to keep the First Nation fully apprised of the proceedings.

Mr. Hobbs said that according to the engineers’ plans, Cardwell Street will have some adjustments made to the intersection of Arthur and Meredith Streets resulting in only one stop and creating “a much more level intersection.” The grade where Meredith Street meets Highway 6 (between Ham’s Marine and the Manitowaning fairgrounds) will also be improved as part of the project.

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Assiginack was awarded $1.8 million in funds through the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Framework last fall. “We now sit on pins and needles to see if the money holds out,” the clerk said. Mr. Hobbs had said at a previous meeting on the topic that council’s “top end” was $2.3 million for the project.

Cardwell Street will see very little straightening, as had been previously mentioned, as moving off the current footprint would require a Class B environmental assessment. However, Mr. Hobbs said, the municipality is hoping to see some grade adjustments.

“Once the road’s done, we will probably take a look at the speed limits too,” he said, referring to a slower posted limit.

Throughout the process, Assiginack has made it clear that having the work completed before Wikwemikong’s cultural festival on the August Civic Holiday weekend is paramount.

For the last decade, Wikwemikong has been lobbying both Assiginack and the provincial and federal governments for help with the problem road.

“It’s certainly reassuring that some of the lobbying efforts over the years by this community are paying off,” Chief Peltier told The Expositor. “It (Cardwell Street) used to be the worst road in Ontario, but now, hopefully, it will be the best in Ontario.”

The chief said he assured Assiginack council that should there be a shortfall in funds to seeing the completion of this project, Wikwemikong would again help to lobby the government to see this through.

“It’s now a high (government) priority, which is reassuring to myself and the council,” Chief Peltier added. “It’s pretty clear that its completion by the annual festival is also of great importance.”

Council is expected to announce the awarding of the tender at its April 1 council meeting at 7 pm in the Assiginack council chambers.

editor@manitoulin.ca