MANITOWANING—The street with the worst standing on Manitoulin, and at one time the province, will soon ditch its old reputation as the Township of Assiginack received good news earlier this month that it has been approved for round three funding from the Municipal Infrastructure Investment Framework to the tune of $1.8 million specifically for Cardwell Street.
Clerk-treasurer Alton Hobbs explained that this funding will see the road completely rebuilt and asphalted—a long term solution to a problem that has gone unsolved for years, despite both the municipality’s and Wikwemikong’s best efforts to raise awareness of the issue of the deteriorating main thoroughfare into Manitoulin’s largest community. Cardwell Street was also a constant source of front-page news over almost a decade in this newspaper, and The Expositor also often encouraged the improvement of the street as part of its editorial commentary.
In October of 2007, Cardwell Street took home the top honours in the annual Canadian Automobile Association’s (CAA) Worst Roads list. It made the list in the years following too and in June of 2008, a special meeting was held with former Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl with both then Wikwemikong Chief Robert Corbiere and Assiginack Reeve Leslie Fields in attendance.
Also that same year Assiginack gave Cardwell Street a band-aid solution of tar and chip thanks to emergency funding from the Ministry of Transportation, which helped to smooth the ride.
The municipality is currently consulting with its engineers but, Mr. Hobbs explained, work might have to wait until 2014.
Cardwell Street falls within the boundaries of Assiginack, but is the sole road into the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Both parties have tried over the years to draw attention to its importance, but until now have been turned down.
“I think it’s really good news, especially considering we are one of the driving forces of the economy of Assiginack, as well as the entire region,” Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier told The Expositor.
The chief said that having the main thoroughfare in suitable shape is important for all kinds of reasons, among them the fact that his community has made significant investments in tourism infrastructure. Having a smooth ride into Wikwemikong makes it more welcoming for people to come, he added, as well as to do business.